Entertainment Hive 2020

Flesh & Bone

Holden Street Theatres, until March 18

Review by Honey B

What merry, miserable life is this that we see playing out before our eyes? Why, it is the fierce work of Unpolished Theatre’s Flesh & Bone. This young UK theatre company has taken Shakespearean language and meshed it with a good lashing of colourful East End slang to create an expletive-filled, raucous ride of a show. Company co-founders Elliott Warren and Olivia Brady star in the ensemble cast as unhappy couple Tel and Kel, who find themselves living under the same roof with Kel’s Granddad (Nick T. Frost) and Tel’s brother Reiss (Michael Jinks). In the downstairs apartment is their drug-dealing neighbour Jamal (Alessandro Babalola), who makes for an imposing figure in character and stance. While he’s a pretty scary dude, there’s another side to the most feared bastard on the block. Violence is a way of life for these characters as they are trapped in the cycle of poverty in their shoddy London tower block. Tel loves to fight and Warren exaggerates his character to the max as he reflects on his manly status, while his girlfriend Kel keeps some well-placed secrets and Brady proves she is just as tough as the blokes in this man’s world. Granddad is a particularly nasty piece of work and Frost is riveting as the gold chain-wearing, sleazy old man. He certainly sends a shudder down your spine. While Reiss is hiding his own secret and is afraid to admit that he is gay. Flesh & Bone is reality on-stage – it bucks stereotypes with its language, intelligence and empathy for these characters. Elliott Warren is a masterful wordsmith and has created highly compelling and multi-dimensional characters all living in shitty council housing, but willing to fight for that shitty, rat-infested existence. Defend their castle, they will!
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