E15

FYSA Theatre

Gilded Balloon

From 16 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Styled as a protest in action, FYSA theatre's new production for the 2015 Fringe is a heartfelt look into the plight of the council tenants of the Focus E15 hostel in Stratford.

The stage is strewn with banners and in place of a production programme is a real flyer for a march in September. As with its previous Fringe piece, The 56, this is as much about education as it is theatre.

Using excerpts from real interviews, the play sketches out the shocking and tragic move by Newham Council to evict twenty-nine pregnant women and single´╗┐ mothers from Focus E15.

With plans to demolish the social housing buildings and sell the land to private investors, the council sought to move these women out of London or let them fend for themselves in the overpriced private rental market. Instead of caving in to pressure, the women banded together and fought back with a series of protests, demonstrations and rallies.

It's a fascinating piece of classic agitprop theatre with a message about an ongoing situation as, even by the close of the piece, some of the narrative threads still hang, as these people's lives still do in reality.

The young cast shine in their roles, through a mixture of physical movement, strong emoting and stark realism. Between this play and The 56, FYSA has proven it is a company to watch and capable of bringing strongly affecting work to the Fringe again and again.