BONES is the theatrical equivalent of the Misery Memoir, those books detailing people’s wretched young lives. Here it is the story of a teenage skinhead.
They don’t get much more depressing than Mark’s story of living in Nottingham with a druggie, sluttish, drink-sodden mother, her slightly creepy father and a baby.
The opening lines from Mark suggest this is not going to be a barrel of laughs: “It’s not as easy as you think killing a baby. . .”
The schoolboy Mark steals from Woolworths because he has no plimsolls, his “waster” father is absent, his mother is drinking heavily and there’s an annoying baby which he constantly threatens to kill. He finds his mother having sex with a low-life and he is provoked by other boys on a bus.
His escape is watching Nottingham Forest and a single holiday in Skegness with mum and granddad in a family room which he initially enjoys even when, lacking bathing trunks, he is told to bathe naked by granddad.
All turns sour when mum nearly dies vomiting after a drug-induced episode and he is left to fetch salt from the hotel bar and dress her.
These ghastly stories are told in the form of an angry monologue by Mark, played by skin-headed Joe Doherty in track suit bottoms and scruffy jacket while constantly drinking from a beer can.
His performance cannot be faulted, pitch-perfect in tone, attitude and emotive power. Writer Jane Upton gets the youthful nuances just right.
But it’s all terribly bleak and depressing to sit through. Bones is easy to admire but difficult to enjoy.