Can you remember the moment your childhood vanished?
This is the main question posed by Decky Does A Bronco, a revival of Grid Iron’s seminal site-specific work, performed outdoors in Victoria Park in the New Town.
A set of rusted swings stands in the centre of a ring around which small foldaway seats are placed. Into this arena then enter Grid Iron’s uniformly excellent cast, portraying pre-teen boys as they play, bicker, spar and try to make sense of a world which is cruelly demanding they grow up too fast.
The ‘bronco’ of the title refers to the trick of being able to leap off a fast-moving swing at its zenith and land on your feet. All the boys are proud of their ability to master this: all except the slightly backwards Decky, whose fear of the bronco is only just stronger than that of ridicule from his playmates.
Staging the piece outdoors works excellently: we are at the swingpark with the group of boys, not caring if it rains or shines. The physicality of the performance is also impressive, as each actor demonstrates their ability to bronco; or to clamber monkey-like over the swings’ frame.
Most impressive of all however is the quality of the performances. Each of the cast capture that recklessness and naivety of youth through convincing mannerisms, movement and speech patterns, and it is easy after a minute or two to believe you are witnessing the antics of a group of children.
As the plot shifts focus from the boys’ relationships to the horrific event which changes them and their dynamic forever, Decky Does A Bronco takes on a tone darker than the approaching dusk, and it is harrowing and powerful to witness the characters as they struggle to make sense of things.
The play will resonate most with anyone who was a child in the 80s – when Panini stickers and lightsaber duels were the most important things in your life.
That said, its excellent performances and the themes of innocence lost and how we as adults make sense of the harshest realities of adulthood will strike a chord with anyone.
Ticket information is available on the Fringe website.
Review by Keith D