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“Bully Boy” Is a Thought-Provoking 90-Minute Drama About the Lasting Trauma of War


Common Wealth Endeavors LLC, a relatively new production company founded by area actor Gregor McElvogue, is intent upon bringing plays from other English-speaking cultures to the U.S. Previously, they have presented Many Moons by British playwright Alice Birch and Canadian playwright Daniel Karasik’s The Innocents.

Bully Boy by Danish-born British playwright Sandi Toksvig takes place in Afghanistan and England, and concerns the lasting trauma of war, both physically and psychologically, and the powerful cohesion among the fighting troops. The current production carries her message well.

Durham, NC director Kari Barclay runs a tight outfit, with military precision and plenty of room for human observation. The struggles that each character wrestles with are not obscured by military protocol but, in fact, thrown into sharp relief by it. The scene changes are woven into the fabric of the play gracefully and naturally. The sound effects by Shelby Hahn enhance the drama, telling us important background material. The costumes from Sid’s Surplus Carrboro clearly define the characters.

Gregor McElvogue does Oscar, the Major, sympathetically and with strength and purpose. Eddie, the enlisted man who is under investigation, is played by Justin Brent Johnson as a sweet and decent man caught between a rock and a hard place. The chemistry these two actors develop can be felt in the audience.

In one scene, when rank is emphasized for a moment, they each get to know something about each other. Later, the two step outside the martial milieu and embrace very human feelings.

This production is 90 minutes of thought-provoking drama, especially in view of the problems of veterans care that we are experiencing here in the United States today, as well as the ongoing problem of acknowledging and dealing with the aftermath of war.

Common Wealth Endeavors LLC presents BULLY BOY at 8 p.m. June 14, 3 p.m. June 15, 8 p.m. June 19-21, 3 p.m. June 22, and 8 p.m. June 26-28 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.

TICKETS: $15 (students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 919-410-8631,, or

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Bully Boy (2011 play): (Nick Hern Books page) and (Wikipedia).

Sandra Brigitte “Sandi” Toksvig, OBE (Danish-born British playwright): ( The Playwrights Database ) and

Kari Barclay (Durham, NC director): (Facebook page).


Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews