That may soumd flippant but actually this play has a lot to recommend it. ‘Rust and Bone’, written by Caleb Lewis from the short stories of Craig Davidson, has three parallel narratives of men who are entrenched in the violent trappings of male conditioning but yearn unknowingly for a “deeper human connection”.
Through the skilful use of transformational acting and instant intersections of each storyteller we see the common threads of machismo that stifle each man’s ability to connect and identify with their needs and wants. It heightens not only the tragedy of male violence but also the epiphanies of love and belonging when they stumble upon it.
Corey McMahon, director of ‘Rust and Bone’ , has brought out the best in this short 65 minute play. There is an inherent trust in his actors Wade Briggs, Renato Musolino and Sam Smith that they can tap into vulnerability, bitterness, anger or all at once and play not only the journey of their own characters but instantly transform into other characters and the audience will follow. It’s a good instinct and I would argue that for a director, this is a much harder ask than planting tricks on stage to cover narrative and acting holes. McMahon has made the most complicated of tasks and made it look simple.
Of course he’s chosen an excellent cast that can bring out the ugliness of these men and still give them a soft underbelly, dancing between the light and dark of masculinity. These are men we all know on one level and even though their stories are heightened, they are believable to us.
Quick mentions and kudos to the technical team but most significantly to designer Michael Hankin. His set of the unforgiving, immovable concrete box that works as a pool, a boxing ring or a dog fighting arena adds to the grey hardness of a man’s denial of weakness.
‘Rust and Bone’ is three engaging monologues made to feel interactive and is well-executed. And at Griffin Independent’s price, it’s great value for money.
I recommend you go and see it and this is probably one to take those guys who hate going to the theatre because if art mirrors life, they’re going to love it. Just be careful how you discuss the show afterwards and assure them it’s all going to be ok…