Boy

Published April 13, 2016

What’s it all about?

It’s about a boy. No, not the Nick Hornby novel. Or the Hugh Grant film. It’s not About A Boy, it’s about a boy. Let’s start again.

Boy is about Liam. He’s the kind of hoody-wearing, fried chicken-eating teenager you stroll past every day on your commute or your trip to the shops. Blink and you’ll miss him.

That’s the point. That’s essentially what everyone does in Leo Butler’s new play. Liam is a 17-year-old abandoned in limbo between childhood and adulthood, desperately searching for help from anyone who could offer it, be they doctors, job centre workers, former friends or random strangers.

Who’s in it?

The cast, pulled together by director Sacha Wares, mixes stage regulars with theatrical debutants; newcomers who bring a rawness and reality to street life.

One such newcomer is Frankie Fox, who is painfully perfect as Liam. His is a performance laden with fear, desperation, bravado, fragile optimism and endless aching for any kind of human connection. He yearns for a chance but receives constant rejection, shattering a confidence as delicate as a daisy. Fox’s performance will live with you for months.

What should I look out for?

Miriam Buether’s conveyor belt set, evocative of the ever onward movement of life, the never ending momentum of modern living and the vicious circle of Liam’s situation.

The moment you realise the magic trick of the performers ‘sitting’, which you’ll then spend almost as much time pondering as Liam’s tragic plight.

In a nutshell?

Leo Butler’s Boy is a short, sharp, poignant production that could change your view of everyone you pass today.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

If you asked Liam, he’d say something like “Yeah. No. It’s good though?”

I’d say this play has an awful lot to recommend it. The constantly moving staging – which requires a tip of the hat to everyone making it work so smoothly – created by the team behind the equally inventive Game, is a feat in itself.

But Butler’s play is more important than that. We may all have heard about a lost generation, about the teenagers we’re failing. Boy lays it bare with brutal, beautiful, heart breaking panache.

Boy runs at the Almeida Theatre until 28 May. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

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