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.