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‘Flesh and Bone’ review

  • Theatre, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A fiery, knockabout story of life on an East End housing estate

Elliot Warren’s Fringe First-winning debut play bursts out from the blocks. An ensemble cast of five all but declare war on the audience: they lock us in fierce eye contact and perform at full pelt. ‘Flesh and Bone’ is about a lively and loveable family, living on a run-down East End estate. It’s as a subtle as a smack in the face but it’s very funny, packed with silly details (scampi is squirrelled away for safe-keeping during a rowdy pub brawl) – with a healthy smattering of Shakespeare thrown in for the ‘poshos’.

Writer, director and all-round East End-er Elliot Warren is the leader of this pack of ‘gritty geezers and birds’. Tel has ‘an unfortunate knack of getting the sack’, which much pisseth off his fiancé Kelly (Olivia Brady, who co-directs). Tel’s brother Reiss dreams of the big lights, and beautiful geezers, of Soho; their granddad has a penchant for stand-up comedy and secret phone sex and, downstairs, drug dealer Jamal is quietly taking care of his mum.

In his script, Warren urges his cast to perform with ‘bestial fire’ and they don’t disappoint. The combination of Warren’s pounding lyrical text, the broad comedy sequences, solo confessional scenes and endless physical skits lend the show a sort of manic drunken quality. It’s vaudeville, Shakespeare, late-night improv, and anything it damn well fancies.

The schtick does eventually wear thin. It’s tiring being screamed at for 90 minutes and the final big plot-twist – the threat of eviction – feels shoehorned in. But this is a ballsy production, showcasing a writer of bruising talent and great heart.

Written by
Miriam Gillinson


£14, £12 concs. Runs 1hr 20min (no interval)
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