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July, 2003
Review: Boys Will Be Boys
Boys Will Be Boys
Boys Will Be Boys at The Mill on Sonning
Natalie Toms enjoys the sweet and engaging comedy that is Boys Will Be Boys, despite finding it initially at "odds with itself."
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By Natalie Toms

Dinner in a converted mill by the Thames - low oak beams and a rotating water wheel - add to the traditional atmosphere where one enjoys some good old-fashioned English cooking at The Mill, Sonning.

quoteThe biggest laughs still come down to the long-established straight-man-dressed-as-woman gambit. quote
Natalie Toms

It wasn't the kind of dinner that you really expect to be followed by a modern family sitcom.

Boys Will Be Boys is a play that seems at first to be at odds with its surroundings.

And initially it also seems to be at odds with itself, trying too hard to be a stage version of My Family, without managing quite the same level of wit.

Writer, Simon Williams, does have something of a similar skill to the tv scriptwriters, with a few initial cringes at a cheesy script. But this is a performance where you do end up laughing out loud.

The play takes on a newly common theme - that of the not-really-at-all-dysfunctional family - with the bemused middle-aged parent centre stage.

The supporting cast includes the sarcastic yet basically sweet Grandpa and the deeply sensible daughter.

The action centres around the trials of Simon Williams' stuttering, flustered dad, Lenny Loftas, a man at odds with the modern world.

The comic premise of the play is that Lenny has a second identity as Myrtle Banbury, a writer of romantic fiction.

Don't worry about granny being shocked by some cross-dressing however; the Myrtle figure is merely a conduit for Lenny's reconciliation with his ex-wife, a seemingly icy professional played by Karen Ascoe.

The reconciliation is helped on its way by a series of very modern misunderstandings involving a tv-link between two rooms in the same house and a confusing array of mobile phones.

But the biggest laughs still come down to the long-established straight-man-dressed-as-woman gambit.

And it is this old-fashioned sense of humour that ultimately makes Boys Will Be Boys into a sweet and engaging comedy, not really at odds with its traditional setting at all.

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