This is a play of immense exuberance. FYSA Theatre has thrown itself into a banner-waving rendition of the Focus E15 campaign. The 29 mothers, faced with eviction notices, band themselves together against the Newham Council. Becoming the poster campaign of London’s housing crisis, E15 is a passionate example of people power, and of the reality of the housing crisis and the people its influencing.
FYSA must be commended on their authenticity. Basing their play on real interviews, speeches and the words of the mothers themselves, everything down from the campaign slogans to the accents is utterly genuine. This is not their story, but they have portrayed it in a way that avoids any false glorification.
The play, although a wonderfully to-the-point rendition of the campaign is nevertheless aggressive and agitating. Those not sympathetic may not appreciate the shouting in their face, and the political agenda the play is pushing. Nonetheless, it is a raw and authentic piece of theatre. As a production, it moves seamlessly from scene to scene, it’s colourful, sad and funny all the way through. Evolving in confidence, the piece starts meekly (aside from some slightly too aggressive slogan shouting at the initial opening) and grows from strength to strength.
Everything about the play is shrouded with a sense of urgency. From the banners covering the walls, to the gonzo snippets of conversations with a civil servant and a housing charity representative. It’s a play heavy with meaning and skips the superficial for a truly riot-rousing experience. It’s not for everyone’s tastes. However, making it more subtle would ignore its importance, making it more polished would disregard its coarse desperation. FYSA don’t skirt around the edges, and they don’t pretend.
E15 is playing from 26 – 31 at Gilded Balloon, as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.