facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Market Boy

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

The National’s Olivier theatre plays host to an entire shopping centre this summer as it launches David Eldridge’s new play Market Boy. Featuring a cast of 30 actors – some playing multiple parts – a couple of cars, a handful of moveable stalls and a large scaffold, the ambitious project, set during the 80s boom, had been hotly anticipated. Matthew Amer attended the first night…

I have not seen a more spectacular start to a show in some time. As Frankie Goes To Hollywood encourages everyone in the Olivier auditorium to Relax, a van bursts through a Labour Isn’t Working poster and starts to bring Romford market in the 1980s to life.

Danny Worters plays innocent 13-year-old Boy, whose Mum – a lone parent starved of affection, played by Claire Rushbrook – takes him to the market to get his first job. A shy, quiet lad ignorant of both shoes and women, he is taken under the guiding hand of shoe stall owner The Trader (Gary McDonald, sporting the tightest of Lycra leggings), who enlightens him on both accounts.

As Boy meets the incredible host of characters in the market, he grows in age, stature and confidence. And what characters there are: Paul Moriarty plays The Toby, a hammer-wielding, roaring, sexually-questionable market inspector who admits “I am a horrible b*****d”; John Marquez plays violently-unhinged ex-Para record stall owner Steve, whose life changes dramatically with his introduction to Ecstasy; and Jan Goodman plays Fat Annie, the market’s tea lady whose every other word is a sexual invitation.

There is, in fact, a lot of reference to sex throughout the play. You’ve either had it or you haven’t, and Boy hasn’t… yet.

Maggie Thatcher also makes an appearance in the form of Nicola Blackwell as a Spitting Image style caricature; her decisions and orations heralding new eras at the market.

David Eldridge’s script is alive with market slang and references to the 80s. There are fabulous nods in the direction of Bisto, Spandau Ballet and Grange Hill that raised more than a smile in the Olivier audience. This is supported by a soundtrack which follows the action from 1985 to 1991. There’s also a little history lesson on how Romford market has evolved over the years.

It evolves again by the end. The crash takes its toll and the once thriving hub of buying and selling is downsized. By then Boy has grown up and, teetering on the edge of his 20s, has the city in his sight.

Market Boy plays at the National Olivier until 3 August. 



Sign up

Related articles

Due to the current pandemic various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows. Please bear with us as we try to keep this page as up to date as possible. If you find a mistake, please let us know by emailing enquiries@soltukt.co.uk. If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.