It's less than an hour long but I dare you to find a play that is as uncomfortable to watch as Mike Bartlett's Bull.
The nastiness is somehow magnified by the ordinary and familiar setting. This isn't a play set in war time or criminal underworld this is a play set in an office.
Thomas (Sam Troughton) and his two colleagues Isobel (Eleanor Matsuura) and Tony (Adam James) have been called together for a meeting by their boss Carter (Neil Stuke). He's running late leaving the three in a room together to wait.
It quickly becomes evident that this meeting is about downsizing, one of the three will be losing their job, but what starts off as a bit of a banter soon starts to echo bullying. The staging gives a clue as to what is to come. The lighting might be office bright and the carpet corporate bland but it is bordered by railings so that the square space also resembles a boxing ring.
Isobel and Tony start to gang up on Thomas and doubt is thrown on whether they are being truthful or not in what they tell him. They play tricks and then accuse him of not being a good sport when he protests. Just how far will they go in this increasingly calculated school yard behaviour?
Troughton is superb as the manipulated victim and Matsuura and James as the smiling and charming bullies. I don't imagine any of the parts are easy, psychologically, to play night after night and I'd be curious to know how they prepare and then let go afterwards.
Bull is a great piece of theatre unearthing the darker side of human nature and then pushing it just a little further. It shifts the survival of the fittest debate firmly away from the physical to the mental while trampling over morality en route.
It packs a powerful punch in its 55 minutes and you can catch it in the Maria Space at the Young Vic until Feb 14.
A note on the tickets; standing and seated tickets are available on all sides of the 'boxing ring'. Standing is the first two rows with the second row raised so don't worry if you are of petite height. Seating is also two rows with the second row raised. It's all unallocated but you will be directed to particular rows so it isn't a free for all. If you do end up standing on the front row you are very close to the action with the actors often leaning on the rails.
Peasy one, Adam James was in The Pride with Mr W over in New York (and yes I did see it)