An ambitious, impressive and gritty piece of theatre.
It would be impossible to watch Bones without appreciating the talent and intensity surrounding the piece. Thompson’s performance overall is very, very strong. There are times when he gets carried away and some of the emotional changes seem too sharp and out of nowhere; a technique which is effective at points in the play, but is used too frequently. However, Thompson is utterly convincing as Mark and manages to pull off the lighter comedic moments just as well as the far more emotional ones. One of the most commendable things about Thompson’s performance is that he manages to give Mark some likeable qualities, despite him being a pretty deplorable character.
Part of that is due to Jane Upton’s excellent writing. The piece is very well crafted and flows steadily and clearly to the eventual climax. Mark’s story is poignant, moving and humbling. By showing things from his perspective as a young boy, Upton taps into the sympathetic side of the audience, giving the piece a new level of engagement.
Ian Robert Moule’s direction is clever and not over-ambitious. He could have benefitted from more moments of stillness and calm in order to get the full effect of the more frantic moments, but he handles the changes between Mark’s childhood and the present day extremely well and uses the lack of props and set in impressively effective ways.
Bones is a testament to how much can be achieved in such a small space with such little set. In this sense, it embodies the spirit of the Fringe. When you leave the theatre, you will not really know what to say or how to respond when people ask “How was that? Did you like it?” You will not leave laughing or feeling uplifted. But you will leave knowing that you just witnessed an ambitious, impressive and gritty piece of theatre.