Writer: Michael Morpurgo adapted by Daniel Buckroyd
Director: Daniel Buckroyd
Reviewer: Sally Cinnamon
The Public Reviews Rating:
After the sensational hit of both the stage and film versions of ‘War Horse’, it seems like the natural next step to adapt Michael Morpurgo’s sequel, ‘Farm Boy’. Here, we’re greeted by Albert’s grandson (John Walters), now a grandpa himself and his college-age grandson (Gareth Bennett-Ryan).
The New Perspectives Theatre two-hander explores life on the farm and how these simple, hard-working farm-folk came by the now ancient tractor which stands centre-stage throughout the hour-long production.
The play is broken into thirds, the first half an intimate recap of Albert’s epic journey to recover his beloved horse – friend, Joey in the World War I. The second recounts the story of their family since Joey’s return to the farm after the war. Farm Boy’s father shows disinterest in farm life and instead takes himself off to the city. The death of grandpa’s wife before she had time to teach him to read is a poignant moment which neatly leads to the third half with a wager between grandpa and grandson. If he can teach him to read, the grandpa will write him a story. It’s a gentle-paced production with lovely performances by the two actors.
Unfortunately, though, a whole section of stage is unused throughout and the full-sized tractor taking centre stage is a frustration giving the production a one-note feel. Perhaps with a dynamic staging and better use of the tractor (at one point it doubles as Joey, the horse) and this production would fly. But these really are minor issues in what is a lovely story done well. It’s inoffensive, warm-hearted, Sunday evening fun.Farm Boy - The Grand Theatre, Blackpool,