Home » Reviews » Drama » Review: The Bounds, Royal Court Theatre
Photo credit @ Von Fox Promotions

Review: The Bounds, Royal Court Theatre

Stewart Pringle’s The Bounds is a historical drama set around a 1553 football match. Two neighbouring towns are set for battle in what was, in this era, a violent game with the pitch larger than the one we know today, spanning the whole town. The main characters, two fanatic football fans, are playing in the game but they have taken up their position right on the outskirts of the pitch, the bounds. Percy (Ryan Nolan) is a passionate and clownish man clinging on to what he knows, and like so many of us, football is his lifeblood. His world,…

Summary

Rating

Good

Full of gorgeous moments performed exceptionally by the talented cast, but lacking in a clear direction

Stewart Pringle’s The Bounds is a historical drama set around a 1553 football match. Two neighbouring towns are set for battle in what was, in this era, a violent game with the pitch larger than the one we know today, spanning the whole town.

The main characters, two fanatic football fans, are playing in the game but they have taken up their position right on the outskirts of the pitch, the bounds. Percy (Ryan Nolan) is a passionate and clownish man clinging on to what he knows, and like so many of us, football is his lifeblood. His world, alongside Lauren Waine’s terrific Rowan, is changed when a strange man appears out of the blue. Something that never happens in the simple lives of the Northumberland villagers! We learn through the stories they share (or don’t share) with him how and why they are outcasted.

There are a multitude of parallels between the time of the play and now. Religious conflict, North/ South divide, transition in the monarchy, just to name a few. These parallels make for a stark mirror to society today, however none of them are delved into with any great depth, making for an unsatisfying conclusion. Saying this, Pringle’s writing is creative and complex, and he can certainly write characters well.

Verity Quinn’s design is clear and concise, with characters in seemingly accurate period costumes, but the real interest comes from the set; a grassy mound breaking through the black wooden stage. This creates a striking moment, the past’s secrets smashing our current reality. It’s an ugly, powerful demonstration that what has come before is always just there beneath the surface.

Unlike the stage floor, The Bounds isn’t groundbreaking theatre. It is, however, a moving and punchy play that works well but struggles to find its feet style wise. A raunchy and laddish humour start soon meanders into the bizarre, with mixed success. Not quite a ‘barnstormer’ but definitely not a drab 0-0 affair. 


Written by: Stewart Pringle
Directed by: Jack McNamara
Design by: Verity Quinn
Lighting design by: Drummond Orr
Sound design by: Matthew Tuckey
Produced by: JD Stewart

The Bounds plays at Royal Court Theatre until 13 July. Further information and bookings can be found here.

About M Jacob