Pulling Out review at the Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter – ‘insightful’

Bob Yates-Tily and Eliot Salt in Pulling Out at Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter

There’s an art to reading a good bedtime story. It’s a talent that teenage dad Leo, as played by Bob Yates-Tily, has certainly got. Like the mummy and daddy bear in the book, Leo wants the best for his baby bear but providing it isn’t easy.

Documental Theatre’s new play Pulling Out is based on interviews with young fathers in Cornwall and London. This research has been turned into a play by writer Lucy Bell.

Eliot Salt plays Caitlin, a wrung-out young mother, as well as a collection of periphery characters. Her metamorphosis into the straight-talking matriarch encroaching on her son’s personal space is particularly captivating. Yates-Tily shifts from being a cocky, slouching teenager to a lost young man negotiating visitation rights. At times his delivery is a little inaudible, but this seems entirely in keeping with his character’s age and situation.

The stories of young fathers are often absent from the media, their voices unheard. This play thoughtfully explores the reasons why even the young men who want to be good dads often find it difficult. Stephanie Kempson’s production feels as if it is still in development. Its edges are slightly raw, but its plot and its message are fundamentally strong.

Documental Theatre’s last show, Score, depicted heroin addition and single motherhood. Pulling Out adopts a similarly approach to an ‘issue’ without being sensational or judgmental.

Insightful and informative exploration of teenage fatherhood