“Deeply contemporary yet rooted in Shakespeare-inspired language, this is a piece that is witty and sad and screaming to be heard”
We are in East London. Terrence or Terry or Tel lives with his brother Reiss, his girlfriend Kelly and her grandad. In the flat below lives the local drug dealer, Jamal, with his mum. As we learn about each of their stories, we follow them through pub brawls and rat infestations, underscored by the looming threat of a council who think their home is an eyesore. Deeply contemporary yet rooted in Shakespeare-inspired language, this is a piece that is witty and sad and screaming to be heard.
Terrence is played by Elliot Warren, who is also the writer of ‘Flesh and Bone’, a clear talent both onstage and with pen in hand. The script tumbles between dialogue, ensemble scenes and moments of monologue in which each character has a chance to tell us who they really are, their fears, their dreams. This tumbling takes perhaps a moment to get used to, but once you’re in there’s no getting out, not that you’d want to.
Olivia Brady, who co-directs, plays Kel with warmth and humour, making some extra cash through phone sex chatlines. Reiss (Michael Jinks) is trying to figure out how to tell his brother he’s gay. Jinks’ performance is tender and playful, immediately emotionally engaging and as a result really quite moving. Alessandro Babalola’s Jamal is electric to watch, hard then soft then hard again in a moment. Nick T Frost is a cheeky Grandad, reminiscing about his wife as he wanders around in his dressing gown. Bold and bursting with life, this is an unapologetic explosion onto the stage, an energised, highly-committed performance in which every person shines, both individually and as an ensemble.
This is a really exciting piece of theatre, well-crafted, well-executed, and vibrant with life.
“a mature and thought provoking reflection on the consequences of living in an economically beleaguered, run-down society”
People run away for different reasons, some serious and others trivial. What if the streets held the only option for you? Seventeen-year-old tracksuit clad Boy may have a lot of bravado, but in reality his world is crumbling. He lives in a decrepit council flat in Hull with his alcoholic mother and little brother Matty. It’s the lead up to Christmas and ‘the people in silver cars’, social services, are eager to split the inseparable brothers up and take Matty away.
The overall impression Niall Ransome’s poetic vernacular creates is of a helpless and vulnerable teenager yearning for something beyond. He hopes there is a world elsewhere. A world where he and his brother can live and be safe. Unsurprisingly, a pivotal point is when the authorities are stood on the other side of the bedroom door, attempting to separate the two. Will Mytum proves a wonderfully versatile actor, playing both boys whilst skilfully using verse in the rhythm of naturalistic dialogue. It’s here when a frantic Boy realises that although it might be a chance for his little brother to have a childhood in a happy home, he’s scared of losing him forever. Gripping his little brother’s hand, the two flee across fields and through towns, shoplifting food and ultimately stealing a car. These aren’t just juvenile pranks, they’re genuine acts of desperation.
Peter Wilson’s music thunders and vibrates a marked out playground with piles of autumn leaves, a streetlamp which often flickers and bathes Boy in its sodium light. Although no actual setting of a house, the few key pieces designer Grace Venning has cleverly chosen really make the stage feel like a housing estate. The piece is a mature and thought provoking reflection on the consequences of living in an economically beleaguered, run-down society. These problems don’t just go away at Christmas.