Bull: Revolving Toreador

Carol Rosegg

Mike Bartlett's vicious Bull, a nasty one-act dissection of office politics mapped onto a bullfight, represents a companion to his earlier Cock (2009), a full-length battle royale of sexual politics whose form refers to cockfighting. Is Story, about a sadistic fiction workshop and based on bear-baiting, lurking in Bartlett's laptop?

Presented as the opener of the Brits Off Broadway festival at 59 E 59, Bull uses many tricks you'd expect from a young male British playwright of the Jez Butterworth school. As three executives wait for the start of a meeting with their boss, Tony (Adam James) and Isobel (Eleanor Matsuura) conduct a wanton, brutal mindfuck against the third, Thomas (Sam Troughton). They ask him many personal questions and use his answers to belittle him. They insult his intelligence, his looks, his professional achievements; they relentlessly bully him into putting his face against Tony's impressive abs. Thomas resists a bit, but metaphorically speaking he has no horns, and many knives in his back.

The whole exercise comes off like a grueling season finale of The Office edited for only the uncomfortable laughs. While Bartlett means for the play to seem surreal, he's allowed the high concept to corral him into a predictable, blunt metaphor for corporate life. He also takes the shallowest possible view of a fairly obvious metaphor, reducing the spectacle to a brutal takedown that lacks any trappings of grandeur, artistry, controversy, elegance, or even tight red pants.

Use Current Location

Related Location

59E59 Theaters

59 E. 59th St.
New York, NY 10022



Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >