Mental Health Issues Kicked into Touch

“ When one part of the scrum breaks down, everything does.”


Ronan Cullen as Ed and James Mackay as Ollie. (Photo: Charles Flint)

It is said that football is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians, and  that rugby is a ruffians’ game played by gentlemen.  The most obvious difference being that rugby is a contact sport.  Over the years rugby has become a professional game requiring commitment and increasing aggression. On the field there are two types of players, the forwards and the backs.

Bones concerns a group of four forwards.  They are the heaviest, part of the workhorse that deals with scrums, lineouts and controlled violence. Each player relies closely on the others so there is a strong bond of mateship, both on and off the field.

Samuel Hoult asCharlie, Ashley Fanned as Will and James Mackay as Ollie. (Photo: Charles Flint)

This is an exciting play, the playing area at ground level, is probably no more than four meters by five. The audience, in the round, are less than a foot from the field. The play opens with four large fit players passing the ball, we are in the middle of a game with high intensity movement ending with a winning try by Ed (Ronan Cullen).  But Ed is reluctant to celebrate at the pub.  Director Daniel Blake also has devised the movement which sees athletic rugby moves within inches of my nose.  It feels dangerous for actors and audience alike. 

After the game there are celebrations, mainly of drinking and singing but we are spared the scenes in the shower. Various injuries are compared and there is the build up to next week’s semi final when scouts are expected from top clubs, Saracens and Harlequins.

Ed and Ashley Fanned as Will (Photo: Charles Flint)

However Ed is beginning to have a change of heart and questions why he should carry on playing rugby. We don’t know the reason for this but it becomes clear as the play progresses. His teammates can’t understand why their high scoring player feels like this.   When sober they try to help for the obligatory couple of minutes. This is the focus of the play as Ed has problems of mental health which he cannot talk about with his team.  

Things get worse with Ed pleading with his captain Charlie (Samuel Hoult), to break his leg.  Throughout we see intensive and aggressive training. Will (Ashley Fannen) is the least strong player but he chips and taunts Ed verbally.  James Mackay plays Ed’s father and several other roles as well as teammate Ollie.  

The simple stage, of AstroTurf and a couple of benches, works well with interesting percussive music and rock music from Eliza Willmott increasing excitement. This is a physically thrilling play, well acted and directed.  However you might find the ending anti-climatic.   

Samuel Hoult as Charlie, Ashley Fanned and Ronan Cullen as Ed (Photo: Charlie Flint)

Production Notes


Written by Lewis Aaron Wood

Directed by Daniel Blake



Ronan Cullen

Samuel Hoult

Ainsley Fannen

James Mackay


Director and Movement: Daniel Blake

Sound Designer: Eliza Willmott


Running Time: One hour 15 minutes without an interval

Booking to 22nd July 2023


Park 90

Clifton Terrace
Finsbury Park

London N4 3JP

Tube: Finsbury Park

Phone020 7870 6876

Reviewed by Malcolm Beckett

at the Park Theatre 

on 10th July 2023