Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
Guest reviewer: Sarah Baumber
Joe Spud, Billionaire Boy, has everything money could possibly buy. The son of a ‘toilet paper re-inventor’, he has luxuries galore. Except all he really wants is to be ordinary. To be an anonymous child in an ordinary school and deal with everyday issues just like his peers, without the distraction that money can bring. Which is where we are introduced to our lead character, who decides he is moving to the ‘Local Comprehensive’. What ensues is a quirky tale of friendship, loyalty, justice and values, all in musical form.
And when I say musical, I mean musical. The songs from the show remain fresh in my head and are catchy to a fault (not really a fault, I loved the pop-tastic cheer they brought, especially ‘As weird as you!’). Each song has been cleverly written to explain plot points or reinforce character feelings whilst also providing the perfect opportunity for the cast to dance. I’m no choreography expert but this production makes fantastic use of the whole stage and the talents of its versatile cast.
The moral of the story has to have a special mention too: Who amongst us can truly say they appreciate the mundane when consumerism is perpetually rapping its knuckles on our windows asking us to buy, buy, buy?
Sitting beside my 11-year-old took on an extra poignancy as I realised this was the first activity in a while we had completed just the two of us, largely down to time constraints. When asked his opinion (this is a family show after all) he wanted me to record that it was ‘energetic and visual’, which indeed it was with the adaptable cast transforming into multiple characters so seamlessly my young friend didn’t realise until the curtain call that one cast member had two roles.
For us, the show captured David Walliams’ spirit perfectly. There was humour, warmth, disgust, friendship, minor audience participation, a bit of Fortnite and love. And did I mention humour? Family friendly frolic at its best.