Touring – reviewed at New Theatre, Hull
Guest reviewer: Dawn Bennett
Having read the book and seen the film I was very much looking forward to seeing the stage production. Everything from the very clever set (designed by Jacqueline Trousdale) which is moved around by the cast and transformed into multiple things (Joes house, Raj’s shop and Ruffington School to name a few) to the fabulous singing makes it a very good night out.
The story is about Billionaire Boy Joe (Matthew Gordon) who’s dad (Jason Furnival) invented Bum Fresh toilet roll and made him into a billionaire. All the money in the world should have made Joe a very happy boy but Joe just wants to be normal and asks his dad to move him to the local comprehensive from his private school.
Joe wants a friend who doesn’t want to be his friend just because he has money. He meets Bob (Davy Bell) and they bond over their love of chocolate and their dislike of cross country running and bullies. The story moves along quickly from Raj’s (Aosaf Afzal) shop to their school, to Joe’s house, to the school canteen with Mrs. Trafe (Emma Matthews) and her strange school lunch concoctions!
The truth soon gets out as to who Joe is and the arrival of his Dad’s girlfriend Sapphire (Rosie Coles) and new boy Jayden (Bernard Mensah) makes life a bit more difficult for him.
The adaptation (by Neal Foster) is very well done, it keeps the story moving and the songs (Jack Poore/Neal Foster) and dances (Paul Chantry/Rae Piper) kept the young audience’s attention.
A number of the cast (including the ensemble Mared Lewis and Joe Sangha) played different characters, swapping and changing clothes, ages and in some cases hair.
David Walliams books transfer well to stage and with this talented cast it made it a very watchable and enjoyable couple of hours.