Writer: Alexander Wright
Director: Dominic Allen
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
The Public Reviews Rating:
The Belt Up Theatre experience is always magical and unique and The Boy James proves to be no exception. We are led into a darkly cosy “drawing room”, coaxed back to our childhoods, and begin to play parlour games – then it’s time to close our eyes and wait for the story to unfold.
And unfold it does, in the most compelling and at times, disturbing ways. Adult James (Dominic Allen) arrives and tells The Boy (Jethro Compton) without explanation, that there will be no more adventures for him, and here it all begins to go wrong – badly wrong. With unsettling shifts of mood and periods of uneasy silence, the audience are fully involved in The Boy’s story as he negotiates the tricky path from carefree childhood to brutal adolescence. We watch as The Boy is uncomfortably introduced to bad language, drink and violent sex.
Loosely based on the life and works of J.M. Barrie there is undoubted influence from his most famous story of Peter Pan, “the boy who never grew up”. However, the themes and ideas introduced are never quite fully developed and are left hanging in the air like threads. You are left with more questions than answers from this experience.
High praise must go to the performers though, in particular Compton, who is entirely convincing as The Boy and manages to beguile and utterly hypnotise the audience throughout.
Belt Up are committed to producing “fearless, adventurous work with the audience at the centre” and this fully lives up to that. It’s an intriguing and engaging work and a perfect introduction to a truly different type of theatrical experience. The text needs work to make it truly exceptional but it’s tantalisingly close to perfection.
Runs until 27th August