Flesh and Bone by Ellliot Warren – Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
Set in an East End tower block, Flesh and Bone is a highly energetic ensemble performance which keeps the audience entertained. However, its broad characters and knockabout comedy do not lend themselves to the social issues its also attempts to examine. Written in droll, cod-Shakespearian/Clockwork Orange couplets, it comes over very much like an adult pantomine. There is entertainment from the pervy grandfather, the streetwise girlfriend, the hardman boyfriend, and the enormous local drug dealer. These characters are familiar from Shameless, and from the depictions of council estate life it parodied.
While Shameless balanced comedy with currency, Flesh and Bone is not the cutting edge drama about life on the edge that it sets out to be. The grandfather is lonely, one brother is secretly gay, the other is secretly tolerant and the dealer has a heart of gold. Intended to connect to wider social themes, these characters are stereotypes, and the introduction of issues such as gentrification is superficial. While it works as a comedy, with Warren’s writing baroque and amusing, Flesh and Bone is not equipped to deliver wider meaning.