"...the pace never flags. Crucially, though, it's emotion that really holds a complex and puzzling story together, largely thanks to the astonishing Kaitlin Howard, who totally owns a quicksilver role that may yet become a new definition for "challenging". The ensemble are excellent throughout, and I haven't even mentioned the sword-fighting, snakes, sex and nudity...! Catch it if you possibly can - it certainly deserves to live on in some form. Kevin Bourke, Manchester Theatre Awards, 5 stars "
- Broadway Baby
Bare - shocked, appalled, elated.
'Bare' is a visceral, compelling and engaging piece of theatre, filled with moments of breathtaking violence. It tells the story of Skinner, a man who is drawn into the world of bare-knuckle fighting, and tells it through scenes, monologues, and the best stage-fighting at the Festival. Skinner's story is moving, and the characters are well-crafted and beautifully acted.
If you're looking for something tame, or PG rated, then this definitely isn't for you - but if you want to be perched on the edge of your seat, then head down to the Radisson. The performances are astonishing, and the whole show is perfectly paced: it barrels along, and you can't help but be drawn into it. The stage violence is excellently choreographed, and there is not a weak link in the excellent cast.
I would encourage anyone (well, anyone who is not of a nervous disposition) to see 'Bare', but remember that it's very much not for the faint-hearted! You will be shocked, thrilled, and emerge from the theatre with your heart racing.
- The List
Hard hitting drama
Gritty, violent theatre set in the world of bare-knuckle boxing from BareBack Theatre. The sharp writing and fantastically choreographed fight scenes wouldn’t have half the impact without the strong central performances, from writer/director Renny Krupinski as slippery agent/promoter Arden and Paul Michael Giblin as fighter Skinner ‘The Killer’, who gets sucked into this murky world of blood and gambling. Hard hitting drama.
- The Stage
Written, produced, directed, choreographed by and starring the same person, is often a warning flag for fringe shows, but in the case of Renny Krupinski's Bare the combination is legitimate, the product of a writer who knows exactly how he wants his vision to take shape and who has the talent in all these areas to make it happen.
This drama of illegal bare-knuckle fighting has a predictable plot, as a lad needing money is drawn into the business, only to be manipulated and trapped by the crooks and hard men who run it, but playwright Krupinski captures the gritty reality of the story and actor Krupinski drives much of its dark energy as the oily but dangerous crooked boss.
There are strong performances from Paul Michael Giblin as the honourable young man with only one way to support his family and Kaitlin Howard doing more than you might expect with the Adrian role of the fighter's wife.
- The Scotsman
"Beggars can't be choosers - as soon as they become choosers they're beggars again," the silver-tongued Arden tells his boxing protégé Rick Skinner. Unfortunately, following this advice sets family man and reluctant fighter Skinner off on a journey that leads him to systematically destroy his body, principals and the lives of those he loves. There is a fine line between hitting hard enough and facing a life behind bars in the illegal world of bare-knuckle fighting and, as Skinner "the killer" finds out, the taste of blood can prove surprisingly addictive.
In this play, written, directed and choreographed by Renny Krupinski, a world dripping with testosterone is brought home with the punch, slap and crack of an adrenaline-soaked fight.
But in among all the sweat, behind the bruised and battered flesh, is the beating heart of a fascinating relationship story - that of soft-centred hard man Skinner and Frank Sinatra fanatic Arden, a slippery figure who uses words to dazzle rather than fists.
Arden, effortlessly played by Krupinski, is the kind of man who likes to toast the Queen before drinking a glass of whisky, but thinks nothing of rigging fights, blackmailing his friends and facilitating murder. Hiding behind the thin veneer of a toothy smile, he is a self-styled Dickensian villain, able to manipulate the trusting Skinner (Paul-Michael Giblin) through razor-sharp one-liners in a way that is deceptively appealing.
With a plot filled with double-crossing, back stabbing and a police force which can be bought over with the right amount of cash, it's a piece that feels influenced by the world of television drama, but one that tackles the theme of working-class marginalisation in a way that is theatrical and provocative.
Through Krupinski's excellently choreographed fight sequences, and the sheer physical prowess of Giblin and other members of the cast, we are asked to question how such strength can be celebrated positively when boxing is so often associated with the tragic demise of those it involves.