E15
  • By Beth Ryan
  • |
  • 26th Aug 2015
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Explosive from start to finish, E15 is verbatim theatre at its most exciting. FYSA theatre tell us the story of the Focus E15 campaign: faced with eviction from their Stratford council homes, a group of women staged a protest which rallied up thousands of followers. The energy slams us in the face as we enter into the midst of a demonstration. Banners are strewn across the stage and actors are mid chant. The colours are bright, the direction is bold, and the message is loud and clear: “Social housing not social cleansing” – the cast wear the motto emblazoned on their t-shirts. You will leave with it ringing in your ears.

In the midst of all the pretence and artifice the fringe has to offer, E15 is a fire bolt of hard hitting reality. It is an hour of electrifying theatre.

The characters are immediately loveable and the statistics immediately startling: in London, one in twenty-five children are homeless. The problem is so agonising because it is so unnecessary: there may be a staggering amount of homeless people in London, but there are even more unoccupied flats. They tell us these facts through lyrical dialogue and occasional beat boxing, lending the play all the fervour and rhythm of a poetry slam. E15 is edifying and entertaining, humbling and provocative.

One standout performance came from Dani Phillips. It’s rare to see such exuberant, firecracker energy so masterfully controlled, and she performs with such authenticity that it’s difficult to believe that she is not actually Jasmin – council house evictee, leader of the campaign and mother of little Saffi. Bianca Stephens is also remarkable as the disarmingly sweet but admirably courageous Sopriya, a Nigerian refugee. Her careful portrayal of human vulnerability casts a harsh light on a government that denies people the safety they came here to seek.

The quality of individual performances is matched by that of the ensemble work. The cast are united by two things: they all visibly love performing and they are all clearly passionate about their cause.

FYSA want us to know that the neglect of the poorer members of our society is a problem that persists. Unlike many other verbatim plays that register big issues but don’t really know what to do with them, E15 confronts the housing crisis head on. It is a testimony to the power of the arts and a reminder that social change is possible. In the midst of all the pretence and artifice the fringe has to offer, E15 is a fire bolt of hard hitting reality. It is an hour of electrifying theatre.

Reviews by Beth Ryan

Summerhall

Ventoux

★★★★
Zoo

Raymondo

★★★★
Gilded Balloon

E15

★★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Boxed In

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘We want social housing, not social cleansing.’ Facing skyrocketing rent and forced relocation, 29 young mothers united to confront Newham Council’s gentrification of their hometown. Two years on, this bold and pertinent piece of theatre examines the Focus E15 movement, Britain's housing crisis and how one group of women refused to be marginalised. Adapted solely from real life testimonies of activists, witnesses and councillors, E15 truthfully addresses the themes of community, strength and solidarity in the face of overwhelming adversity. 'FYSA Theatre speaks with admirable feeling and clarity' **** (AYoungerTheatre.com). 'A highly recommended, flawless show' **** (EdFringeReview.com). ***** (ThePublicReviews.com).