Suite 101
Bare is Renny Krupinski’s uncompromising, gritty drama set in the north of England, following the fighting career of Rick “Skinner” as he delves deeper and deeper into the dark world of bare-knuckle fighting, working for the comically evil fight promoter-cum-gangster, Arden.

The first thing the audience notices is the energy with which the play is delivered all the way through, which creates a visceral, realist atmosphere that continually pulls the audience into the dark world the characters inhabit. Not a second is wasted, no movement on stage seems arbitrary and the whole piece is delivered with the professionalism and skill you’d expect from a play that has been described as one of the best at the festival. Surprisingly, despite its praises, it does not disappoint. There is not a moment that can seriously be described as dull.

Rick Skinner, a Psychotic Portrayal

Krupinski writes, directs, choreographs and appears alongside the main character as a sort of twisted, amoral, psychotic Thatcherite mentor to Rick Skinner, a working-class fighter who is constantly torn between his need of the sport in terms of personal and financial gratification and his responsibilities as a father and husband.

Paul Michael Giblin breathes life into a character that has essentially been done many times before, with help from an incredibly sharp, often witty script that provides the right balance of humour, brutality, characterization and drama in order to make something truly special

The fight scenes themselves are nothing short of lessons in stage brutality. They remain immersive all the way through, particularly at the beginning, where the audience is introduced to the sport by Krupinski’s character taking bets from a manic crowd.

Skinner’s Personal Life Out of the Ring

Despite the temptation to imagine the fight scenes as the highlight, the play also explores the marriage between Skinner and his wife and the conflicts inherent in almost any married relationship. Blood sport or no blood sport, their relationship always seems genuine in the way both individuals suffer. This helps the audience empathise with Skinner’s character, which makes the inevitable betrayal by his would-be mentor and manager all the more distressing.

An excellent play from an excellent cast that stands out amongst the hundreds of other plays at the festival.

A rare thing indeed: a must-watch at the Fringe!