THEATRE / On Theatre

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'There are a lot of fairly unpleasant people in this play,' says Mike Bradwell, the director of Richard Zajdlic's play Rage (below). 'But by the end you know why they are, and you care about them. That's what it's all about as far as I'm concerned.'

Bradwell, who founded Hull Truck theatre in 1971 and is returning to the Bush for his 22nd production to date (and still counting), is a vigorous proponent of the character-led school of theatre. He first met Zajdlic in 1988, when Zajdlic and his co-performer from student days, Richard Crowe, were rehearsing Cock and Bull Story for the Lyric Studio. Bradwell was brought in to 'help out with the directing; in fact, he directed it. Bradwell's proud boast is that he has never directed a play by a dead writer. 'My problem is that I think theatre is new writing,' he confesses. 'Anything else is either academic or nostalgic.'

Cock and Bull Story was a gritty exploration of male sexuality and machismo. Rage is equally tough, confronting the manifold prejudices which arise when a disaffected, middle-class youth stabs a policewoman and then hangs himself in police custody. 'It's more hard-edged than most of the work I do,' admits Bradwell, but what draws him to Zajdlic's writing is what he cautiously describes as a 'Chekhovian quality - if that doesn't sound too pretentious. It's his ability to turn on a sixpence between something which is very high drama and very, very funny.'

(Photograph omitted)

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