Pulse Fringe: Stoopud F**ken Animals

On its way to Edinburgh, this play - described as an “almost musical” stopped off at the Pulse Festival en route from its original hatching ground in Leiston.Writer Joel Horwood is making quite a name for himself and, after an evening that was by turns hilarious, dramatic and moving, you can see why.

Pulse Fringe Festival: Stoopud F**ken Animals, by Joel Horwood. Loose Collective rehearsed reading at Sir John Mills Theatre, 5 June.

On its way to Edinburgh, this play - described as an “almost musical” stopped off at the Pulse Festival en route from its original hatching ground in Leiston.

Writer Joel Horwood is making quite a name for himself and, after an evening that was by turns hilarious, dramatic and moving, you can see why.

SFA is billed as “a Western set in Suffolk”. We meet Lefty, the roaming Suffolk pub musician who picks a guitar and sings country. He's a cowboy - that is to say, he is a stockman on a farm and his most immediate concern is Bruno the bull who has a lump on one of his testicles.


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He encounters Charlie, a bull semen salesman who has heard of Bruno's condition and is eager to sell the pre-packed variety.

Charlie's twin, the aptly nicknamed Dim, has just found himself a job looking after the chocolate vending machines at the local power station. It's a job that offers a few perks in the way of Chunky Kit Kats.

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We quickly realise that there is something not quite right about Charlie's family when he changes his name by deed poll from Redhead to Bronson. He calls his mum, Karen - and she knows why.

With strange calls from a pay phone in London and Charlie's angry confrontations we know there is something nasty in the woodshed and by the end of the piece it all comes tumbling out.

Horwood's brilliantly worked dialogue, delivered in believable Suffolk accents, is overlaid with humour and pathos. His characters are gloriously alive. They swear, they row, they 'go off on one' but there is real humanity and in the relationships, however fraught.

The local references got appreciative laughs: “Are you all right there, Bungay!” Lefty hails the regulars from his designated corner of the pub. On tour throughout, he also plays Wrentham, Middleton and Dunwich. Dim fancies a trip to Pleasurewood Hills on his (and Charlie's) 22nd birthday.

The Edinburgh Festival audience may need a gazetteer.

This was not a staged performance but you barely noticed. The five actors were superb.

Carl Prekopp as the spontaneously combustible Charlie, shows us the young man's hurt and confusion as well as his furious bravado and Jack Laskey gives a finely-judged Dim, vulnerable but still his own man.

Ivan Cutting who single-handedly played the soundtrack and sang the songs, composed by Arthur Darvill, roams the Wild East, the Lone Ranger of north-east Suffolk.

Wendy Nottingham as matriarch Karen probably had the hardest task as the good woman harbouring a terrible secret. She seems all passive acceptance until it turns into a white fury. Kate Burford is an enigmatic Belle.

Lynne Mortimer

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