The Bockety World of Henry and Bucket

Review by Flossie Waite
Sarah Argent, in collaboration with Barnstorm Theatre Company
Polka Theatre
For ages 4+

‘Bockety’ means something a bit wobbly or broken, but that still sort of works – an apt description for both the beautifully ramshackle world Henry and Bucket live in, and their friendship. A day in their life – in which everything and nothing happens – examines how we negotiate all relationships, and reaffirms that old saying: “Don’t go to bed on an argument”.

Mounds of discarded junk, from piles of plastic bottles to a litter of old boots, create an unconventional habitat for Henry (John Currivan) and Bucket (Paul Curley). The seemingly haphazard existence is underpinned by routine – a quick wash under the umbrella shower, a fanciful drive in the pieced-together car – and by rules (read from a tin box which opens just like a book). It’s when these tenets are tested that the two must work out how to fix their friendship.

The Bockety World has drawn comparisons to both Waiting for Godot and Laurel and Hardy; the sparse, repetitive language and physical comedy work together to offer an understated and relatable portrayal of an intimate relationship. Henry and Bucket are so close their sentences overlap. They instinctively know what the other is talking about (“Will we?” “Yes, let’s!”), which at it’s best creates a happy bubble big enough for two, but at its worst sees them furiously alternating words in enraged sentences: “You-are-getting-on-my-nerves-today-and-you-are-getting-on-my-nerves-today.”

Discarded objects take on new purpose as irons heat food and a fridge doubles as an armchair, all accompanied by Currivan and Curley’s impressive sound effects. As they tap spanners to bring out the stars, and talk to their pet – a (computer) mouse – it is indistinguishable whether these things are meant to actually be happening in the world they are inhabiting, or represent shared flights of imagination. As long as it is all real to Henry and Bucket, that’s all that really matters; the production reflects and sanctifies children’s imaginative play, and the relationship between play and theatre for young audiences.

Writer and director Sarah Argent has become a byword for quality children’s theatre, and deservedly so. Here is another brilliant, completely different, production which speaks to, and says as much about, married couples as four-year-olds.

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One response to “The Bockety World of Henry and Bucket

  1. Pingback: Get Happy | Children's Theatre Reviews·

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