5 Star Review in Venue Magazine

Bursary Boy from local playwright Dougie Blaxland is an intense, disturbing examination of the dark side of Catholic priestly life, covering in little over an hour loneliness, doubt, sexual repression and its consequences, twisted love, betrayal, and guilt, guilt and more guilt. Familiar topics, of course, which have often been dramatised before. Here, it took the form of a confrontation on three occasions over time between a young soon-to-be ordained priest and an older priest who had been his headmaster at school. You can imagine the sort of painful truths that came out during the course of this, but this was not as simplistic or predictable as you might think; and though it occasionally strayed a little close to the melodramatic, the play was saved by its attempt to portray the torment not just of the abused, but of the abuser.To achieve this successfully requires acting skill of a high order, and thankfully it was present in spades in this production. Ed Browning as the young priest was powerfully convincing in his gradual move from trusting to anger as the murky past became clearer.

But the real impact of this piece came from Pavel Douglas' magisterial portrayal of Father Kennedy.

In what must be the performance of a lifetime, Douglas was able to wring every possible emotional response from this troubled character; now fawning, now irascible; now pleading, now angrily dismissive; now domineering, now abject.

Acting of this depth and intensity is a rare thing.

I recommend you see it if you can.


John Christopher Wood 10/06/12 

(Venue Magazine for Bristol and Bath)