Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Humble Boy

By Charlotte Jones, Dir: John Caird
Royal National Theatre production – Oxford Playhouse, 29 October

Guest Reviewer of the Week SHEILA CAMERON says:

An ‘award winning play’, - the Daily Telegraph ’cannot recommend this lovely play too highly’. Reviews in the Guardian, Times and Sunday Times produced similarly fulsome word-bites. Even the Financial Times said you should ‘not miss this’.

If ever there was proof that you should not believe the press, this week in Oxford was it. Everyone I spoke to considered leaving at the interval and felt at the end that they took the wrong decision. (I didn’t get to talk to those who actually left.) OK, there were highlights. The set was ‘sumptuously designed’ (Guardian) – a riot of waist high grass dotted with roses. And the ‘Boy’s’ trousers were a joy to behold. Tight on waist and thigh, crotch almost to the knees, and over-long in leg. Overall effect of elephant in cricket whites was classic. But you can only appreciate fat boy in the long grass for so long, and appreciation is shortened if the cast are haranguing each other in voices painfully loud for the size of theatre in pursuit of a plot that totally escaped me. Yes there were jokes, but they were tied on as loosely as the gratuitous soliloquies on superstring theory. Example: Mrs Humble (Hayley Mills, looking younger than her supposed son) is engaged to Mr Pie. (Gerrit? In case not, it was firmly pointed out that they would become the Humble Pies….) And more of this ilk. Not, in my view ‘funny, very, very, funny’ (Sunday Times). Guess their critic likes banana skins too. Overall a night in with a good book would have been preferable. And even in hardback, probably cheaper.


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