Hot on the heels of Dear England at the National Theatre, which explores mental health and emotions in the England men's football team, we have Bones at the Park Theatre, which looks at men's mental health through the prism of a rugby team.
Both plays highlight some of the negative impacts of toxic masculinity, which forces self-reliance and emotional repression.
In Lewis Aaron Wood's play, the rugby team throws gendered insults and references to sexual acts with each other's mothers. Problems are 'solved' by drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
The story centres on Ed (Ronan Cullen), who is a reluctant participant despite scoring the winning try in an important game and is considering drastic measures to get out of the next big match.
Despite noticing a difference in his behaviour, there is little attempt from his friends/teammates, at least initially, to find out what is wrong.
The energy and strength of the game and training sessions are powerfully recreated on the astroturf stage against a backdrop of music with a heavy base. The only problem is that the music nearly drowns out the dialogue.
While you get some insight into what Ed is going through expressed as a monologue during the rugby, his teammates Will (Ainsley Fannen) and Charlie (Samuel Hoult) have less to work with and aren't as rounded. As a result, they aren't as believable, and it lessens the impact of Ed's story.
Similarly, Ed's father (James Mackay) feels like a flimsy character and their relationship isn't explored.
Bones is an important story, and while elements are executed well, it felt lacking in depth at times. I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Bones, Park Theatre
Written by Lewis Aaron Wood
Directed by Daniel Blake
Running time: 75 minutes without an interval
Booking until 22 July; for more information and to book tickets, visit the Park Theatre website
Song From Far Away, Hampstead Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ booking until 22 July
Accidental Death of Anarchist, Theatre Royal Haymarket ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ booking until 9 September
Dear England, National Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and a half booking until 11 August
The Crucible, Gielgud Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ booking until 1 September
The Motive and the Cue, National Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ booking until 16 July
A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ booking until 16 June, it then transfers to the Savoy Theatre for 5 weeks.