EFR - Reviews of Bones

Alice Harper

at 10:20 on 16th Aug 2016

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This production could be the exact definition of minimalist; the staging is simple, with a plain backdrop and a few props. The character of Mark, dressed in plain grey and white, is already on stage as the audience enters, pacing back and forth as though in a state of unbearable agitation. Then, as the theatre doors close, he abruptly bursts into life and the show begins, grabbing its audience by the throat.

The staging may be minimalist, but there is nothing plain about Dominic Thompson’s performance. He moves unpredictably around the stage, going from absolute stillness and quiet to raging anger in seconds. It is remarkable how often the tone changes while still leaving a show that feels like a coherent whole. Mark’s disparate emotions all seem to fuse together into one utterly believable character.

The story is told with events from the past and present in parallel with one another, Mark switching between the two with subtle shifts in body language and tone of voice. Thompson's ability to go from an angry, violent young man one minute to a frightened, vulnerable child the next is truly breathtaking. The script is flawless, totally capturing the viewpoint and voice of its character and spinning a story that feels both truthful and heartbreaking. It dodges between present and past, building almost imperceptibly to a crescendo so that the ending still comes as a shock.

The venue definitely helps the effect of the performance; such a small room means that everyone feels immediately involved and the atmosphere is electric. Audience members on the front row in particular definitely feel the full effect of the performance, as Mark’s anger often bursts forth unexpectedly and right in the audience’s faces. These moments only add to the nervous tension in the room, as well as providing some of the surprising comic elements.

Bones is equal parts funny, upsetting, shocking and very, very moving. Thompson's performance is energetic and unrelenting: it doesn't let you go from the moment he starts to speak. The writer, director and performer clearly work very well together and are all exceptional at what they do. This show is exciting and different. It makes you sit up straight and pay attention, then it makes you think about life long after you've left the theatre.

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Ellie Bartram

at 15:10 on 16th Aug 2016

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'Bones', a monologue performed by Dominic Thompson (Mark), is an emotionally-charged solo performance with a remarkably intense energy that runs throughout. Mark, forced to deal with harrowing family issues throughout his life, uses the frame of a monologue to retell these experiences and reflect on his childhood.

The play's modest summary does not at all prepare me for Dominic Thompson’s performance. The audience are immediately forced to engross themselves in Mark’s world: he angrily paces the stage even before the performance begins, and establishes his character even before we have taken our seats. Indeed, his monologue retains this same level of intensity throughout, as it flashes back and forth from a traumatic childhood family holiday in Skegness, to the traumatic adolescent responsibility of caring for his mother and new-born sister.

Writer Jane Upton has done an amazing job with the script, which addresses extremely challenging social issues. These span far beyond Mark’s initial hardship of living with his mother’s drug addiction, and continue to unravel throughout the performance. Thompson expertly handles his role, grappling with these problems while struggling to belong in a world that constantly rejects and riles him. The passion and emotional energy conveyed by this actor is astounding: he forges a sense of intimacy between Mark’s character and the audience with ease.

Indeed, there is a highly intimate feel to the entire performance. The venue is small and dimly lit, whilst the minimalist stage bears only a baby’s buggy and a bar stool. There are also many intense and emotionally-charged interactions with the audience. In the jam-packed venue, I am reassured when I look around and see my own expressions of shock and captivation mirrored in my fellow audience members' faces.

Upon leaving, I notice that a few audience members are in tears. I think it is safe to say that the heavy emotional tone of 'Bones' affects everyone in the audience as powerfully as it did me. Ultimately, 'Bones' is not for those with a sensitive disposition. But for all others, it is a must see.

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