Lesley Joseph as Flora
Reviewed by Martin Borley.
Love, bereavement and bee keeping are the themes of this comedy starring Lesley Joseph.
Rosie and Felix
Yes, it's yet another bitter-sweet comedy about a disintegrating family. This is surely the number one topic for modern playwrights. But Humble Boy, by Charlotte Jones, is one of the best in its class.
The play has already been performed to rave reviews at the National Theatre and in the West End. This brand new 'in house' production at the Royal Theatre is going to get another glowing review here.
From the start, Ben Stones's set looks beautiful: a lush garden with long grass, decking-style walkways, a manicured lawn, red roses and a big beehive.
The people using the garden are not so fragrant.
Lesley Joseph is Flora, the matriarch of the Humble family. She's a self-obsessed old dragon who's described as a black hole: she draws everyone in and distorts them.
Jim (Simon Molloy) is Flora's dead husband, a gentle man who was passionate about bee keeping and who still wanders the garden, pruning the roses.
Flora conronts Felix
The only person who sees Jim is his and Flora's son Felix (Jeremy Swift). Felix is a stuttering, mature student of theoretical astrophysics. He's also desperately mourning the loss of his dad. And he hates his mother.
Into the scene comes Felix's ex-flame Rosie (Amy Marston) and Flora's new flame, the earthy, bigoted George (Roger Sloman). Rounding off the cast is Mercy, the well-meaning, mild mannered and put-upon friend of Flora's (Penny Rider).
It's a clever mix of well-rounded and convincing characters.
You might spot a lot of similarities to Shakespeare's Hamlet (but with real bees instead of 'to be or not to be'). And this is one of those clever plays that you can read on different levels. It is both moving and very funny.
Humble Boy can be enjoyed as a brilliant piece of comedy with some superb comic acting.
Photos: Donald Cooper.
last updated: 17/04/2008 at 08:29
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