FLESH AND BONE | London, Soho Theatre

With five actors and no set, in-yer-face Flesh and Bone has been touring internationally since 2016, picking up a Critic’s Circle Award and many others along the way. Somewhere between a sketch show and a graphic novel, we feast our eyes upon the depravity, triumphs and utter hilarity of the underprivileged, in a vivid and fast-paced ride through a working class estate, fusing Shakespeare-inspired lyricism with cockney accents.

In one episode, an entire swathe of rats invades the estate, so Terrence (writer and co-director Elliot Warren) destroys them by stomping on them, biting their heads off, and blasting them with a shot-gun (all mimed, of course). In another scene, Kelly (co-director Olivia Brady) talks about her job operating a phone-sex hotline. Drug dealer Jamal (Alessandro Babalola) tells us about the pressures of putting on performative masculinity. Although seemingly episodic to begin with, we slowly see how the characters and situations are all connected.

Although the company is called “Unpolished Theatre”, the years of extensive touring have made it incredibly polished, and still stoked with sinew-bursting energy. Despite no set, the show is choreographed within an inch of its life with extremely tight ensemble movement, which works with the carefully crafted Shakespearean poetry. During an incredibly over-the-top, slow-motion pub fight, someone in the audience actually yelled out from shock over how cool it looked.

The show is not exactly family-friendly. The eighty minutes of non-stop raging, swearing, spitting and sweating, just a few inches from your face, is hardly an easy watch. The energy from the whole cast is remarkable, but bloody hell, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Flesh and Bone will get in-yer-face at the Soho Theatre until 21 July 2018.

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