Decky Does a Bronco – Douglas Maxwell


The site-specific play was first per­formed at Brodie Park on July 28, 2000.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Decky (9-year-old boy)          David Ire­land
David (Adult)                          Keith Macpher­son
Young Chrissy                      Andy Clark
Adult Chrissy 
                       Craig Smith
Young Barry  
                        Ross Suther­land
Adult Barry
                            Paul Cun­ning­ham
Young O’Neil
                        Jimmy Har­ri­son
Adult O’Neil 
                          Muz Mur­ray

Note:  All parts are played by adult males.

Direc­tor:  Ben Har­ri­son
Sculptor/Set Designer:  Allan Ross
Cos­tume Design:  Alice Bee
Light­ing Design:  George Tar­buck
Com­poser:   Philip Pin­sky
Stunt Coor­di­na­tor:  Jonothan Camp­bell
Stage Man­ager:  Amy Shapcott

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Maxwell, Dou­glas. Decky Does a Bronco. Oberon Books, 2001. Drama Library PR6113. A85 D43 2001.

Set­ting:  A play­ground in the small town of Gir­van, on the west coast of Scotland.

 Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary with lots of Scot­tish lingo


And we’d still be tak­ing the mickey out of him. Just ’cause he’s—just ’cause he’s no here peo­ple are going to be all ‘Aw wee Decky was ace, man I was best pals with him’ but they wer­e­nae. I’m no even going to the funeral.

Genre/Style:  Serio-Comedic

Plot:   Adult David remem­bers the events of a sum­mer when he was nine and he and his friends hung out at the play­ground bron­co­ing swings and teas­ing Decky, the small­est of them who was never able to bronco.  David recounts the tragic event that shat­tered their inno­cent child­hoods and haunts them even as adults.  The play was orig­i­nally pro­duced on a play­ground and toured to play­grounds around Scotland.




Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.  Since David is the nar­ra­tor in the play, he has a lot of monologues.

p.36–37:  David elu­ci­dates the dan­gers of satire, sar­casm, and irony. 


Ah, happy, peace­ful days. I’m a patho­log­i­cal rem­i­nis­cer. I was rem­i­nisc­ing about lost days of youth when I was still a child, really. We’d some­times come up here and sit at the swings late at night after a com­mu­nity cen­ter teenage disco.  [Lines cut] I admit it, I enjoyed it. It was excit­ing. Things turned nasty when I needed to be sar­cas­tic first thing in the morn­ing. Then came irony. Before I knew it, I was lying alone in an empty ware­house on a stained mat­tress, main­lin­ing satire. Just say no.

p.53–54:  David tells what hap­pens when he and Chrissy went to Decky’s house the day Decky dis­ap­peared. Long mono­logue


I remem­ber what hap­pened next very clearly. We walked along with Barry till we got to my bit. Barry pad­locked his bike to the inside of our fence and went in. Me and Chrissy walked on to Decky’s house, very, very slowly. [Lines cut] There was total silence in the liv­ing room, apart from Decky’s dad. He was sit­ting for­ward in his chair with his head in his hands. His hands were huge and bat­tered from years of work­ing out­side. The tears were stream­ing between his fin­gers as if his entire face was made from water.

p.62–63:  David explains what he does when he now sees a story on tele­vi­sion about a child hav­ing been abducted.  Very long mono­logue.


You know when you watch the news and you see the daily child abduc­tion story; the smil­ing school photo in the cor­ner of the screen and the stern-faced news­reader, unable to believe that they are say­ing yet again the phrase ‘was last seen alive’; do you know when you see that, you always say ‘I can’t imag­ine what the par­ents are going through’, do you feel that you’re telling a lie?  [Lines cut] You see when the news comes on and I close my eyes, when every­one else is try­ing their hard­est not to see the truth, I have a pic­ture in my mind. It’s the most beau­ti­ful, free, child-like, fun, impor­tant thing in the world. Because it’s then, in that blink, in that instant…  Decky does a bronco.



Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  This play has a lot of char­ac­ters and there are very few sec­tions that involve just two people.

p. 55–57:  Barry and David talk about Decky’s death.  Starts with


What did my mum want?

and ends with


I’m wait­ing till I get back to Gran’s, till I cry. I won­der if she knows? She never even met Decky though. Think about it. Think about all the peo­ple who never met him, who he would have met, the things he would have done. He never even Bron­coed a swing.




Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Clapp, S. (2000, Aug 13). Arts: EDINBURGH FESTIVAL:THEATRE: Child’s play for adults: When the emo­tions of a gang of boys are por­trayed by adults, the results are dis­turb­ing. The Observer, pp. 8.

Hal­libur­ton, R. (2001, Jun 22). More than child’s play. Evening Stan­dard, pp. 50.

Hick­ling, A. (2001, Jun 09). Reviews: The­atre: Swings and round­abouts in man­ches­ter: Decky does a bronco: Whit­worth park, man­ches­ter (3/5 stars). The Guardian, pp. 1.25.

Kingston, J. (2001, Jun 25). Decky does a bronco. The Times, pp. 2, 24.

McMil­lan, J. (2010, Jul 08). The­atre reviews: Life’s swings and round­abouts. The Scots­man, pp. 36.

Spencer, C. (2001, Jun 25). A haunt­ing look at the leap from inno­cence. The Daily Tele­graph, pp. 15.


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