A fast-paced hard-hitting trip through an East End working-class estate expertly entwined with the lyricism of Shakespeare. Flesh & Bone toes that fine line between honest representation and complete mockery with a skill and clarity rarely seen before, providing the audience with a story heart-wrenchingly relatable to any working-class member.
We know these characters; we’ve seen them roaming the streets time and time again and tried to pay them no mind, but this performance gives the audience the opportunity to delve deeper into their back stories. Every problem and issue they are being forced to face trying to survive in a class-run society. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s human.
This play gives a big F-you to the society which has pushed poorer families into cramped one-bedroom apartments and then forced them to move when the buildings prove an eye sore. It essentially says that ‘these are people too’, they have the same worries and aspirations as anyone else – but the hand that they have been dealt since birth has not gifted them with the same opportunities nor any sign of escape.
Elliot Warren’s writing in his debut play is spectacular. If you ever wanted to know what Shakespeare would sound like performed in a cockney dialect, then this is definitely the play for you. It provides the sophistication the story needs to be taken seriously, while also giving the humour and relief, and firmly cements the brotherhood these characters form in the face of austerity.
For there being only five actors on stage, they all do a tremendous job of both entertaining and inspiring a sense of empathy for their characters. They’re completely three dimensional, talking directly to the audience in a way that feels like a two-way conversation. These characters become real, their situations even more so. Every member of the audience can relate in some fashion, whether they’ve experienced it first hand for themselves or merely walk past estates on a regular basis.
From issues of homophobia to issues of race this play seems to cover it all, but (most importantly) it’s done in a respectful manner that, while funny and amusing, does not mean any offense. The piece calls out everyone on their wrong doings – from laughing at the representation of working-class people on television as they “scam” the system for benefits to those ‘big bosses’ in positions of power who refuse to give those in dire need the employment to help themselves.
For those wanting an honest representation of their backgrounds, for once written and performed by working-class people, I would definitely recommend buying tickets to see this play. Never before have I seen the life of those who live on estates represented so raw and humanly.