Sandi Toksvig’s hard-hitting drama Bully Boy heads for Mercury Theatre

Bully Boy

Shakespearean actor Andrew French and rising star Josh Collins have answered the call-up for a revival of Sandi Toksvig’s hard-hitting military drama Bully Boy.

Bully Boy is set to open at the Mercury Theatre, in the Essex garrison town of Colchester, just a few days before the nation remembers its service personnel killed in action.

Private Edward Clarke is every inch the hero to his mates in the Bully Boys, but he’s shattered inside – haunted by one particular battle on which his whole life has turned.

When Major Oscar Handley is called to investigate the outcome of this chaotic firefight, his inquiry lifts the lid on Eddie’s fragile mental health, and an unlikely bond is formed between the two men.

Playing the roll of Private Edward Clarke will be Josh Collins, an emerging talent and recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Opposite Josh is Andrew French as Major Oscar Handley. Andrew’s theatre credits include Boi Boi is Dead (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Julius Caeser (RSC), and Merchant of Venice (Royal National Theatre).

Andrew said: “I was really intrigued by the challenge of a two hander. The demands, both physical and emotional are, I think, something that all good actors look for.

“I found the themes of the play as relevant today as when the play was written, perhaps more so.

“I just loved the speeches that my character, Oscar, gets to play out. I’m a warfare buff and found that I share that interest with him.”

Bully Boy is directed by Dan Sherer, artistic director of Colchester-based Real Circumstances Theatre Company. The show marks the beginning of Dan’s involvement with the Mercury Theatre in a year long programme to support new work and talent development.

Dan said: “Bully Boy is a disturbing and powerful play from Sandi Toksvig, the renowned writer and broadcaster. Sandi exposes an unvarnished and brutal vision of war; and the devastating effects it has on those who have to undertake it.”

Winner of the Cameron Mackintosh Composer Scheme, Rebecca Applin will compose music for Bully Boy as part of her year long residency with the Mercury Theatre and the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.

Bully Boy will play at the Mercury Theatre in the newly refurbished Studio from November 5-21.

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