REVIEW: Flesh and Bone (Pleasance Dome) ★★★★★

Flesh and Bone is a new play written in 2016 by Elliot Warren and co-created with Olivia Brady. This is the first show from Warren and Brady’s Unpolished Theatre, founded last year by the recent drama school graduates.

The play is set in a tower block in East London and tells the tale of five residents, each with their secrets underneath their brash and bold exteriors. Terence lives with his girlfriend Kelly, brother Reiss and Grandad in a tiny flat. Jamal is their bad boy neighbour who lives with his mother. We follow their lives from pub brawls to drug deals to nights out in Soho and rat infestations to the final stand-off with the bulldozers, all the while down to their last pennies.

Elliot Warren bursts onto the stage as Terence, demanding our attention with a mix of East End slang and Shakespearean words. Olivia Brady plays his long suffering girlfriend Kelly who makes endless cups of tea for the men around her while she waits for the next call from the sex chatline to make some cash. Michael Jinks is Reiss, afraid to confess to his brother that he’s gay and harbouring a crush on neighbour and drug dealer Jamal, played with vigour by Alessandro Babalola. Nick T Frost plays Grandad, mourning the loss of the love of his life. Both individually and as a group, the cast capture and hold the audience’s attention from start to finish with their high energy and fast paced delivery. Between the noisy conversations, each character has their moment in the spotlight when we hear what’s going on under the surface.

Warren’s writing is brilliantly crafted, bringing laughter and tears. With no set, it’s all about the words and the characters. This is a gritty play with some graphic scenes, nothing is dumbed down here. Not for the faint hearted but it is well worth a watch, this is a tale that needs to be heard.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans

Photo: Heather Pasfield