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Wonderful play - great acting

David Fawbert Photography

Humble Boy, The Bear Pit, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 7 to 11 February 2023.

Review by Ann Evans

The cast, production team and audiences have waited since 2019 to bring Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones to the stage. Planning for its production started in 2019 for the 2020 season. Covid however put a stop to those plans. It was postponed, then postponed again and finally cancelled. However, it was a play the actors dearly wanted to put on, and so they assembled an independent production team, namely Humble Productions purely to get Humble Boy onto the Bear Pit stage. And I for one am extremely glad that they did.

I was privileged to watch the full dress rehearsal, and what a brilliant play this is, acted superbly by its cast of six and directed by Christopher Dobson.

The setting is idyllic – the Humble family’s back garden in summer with the flowers blooming and the buzzing of bees in the air – although sadly, the hive of bees have been moved to pastures new which only adds to the grief Felix Humble is feeling at his father’s recent death made worse by his mother’s domineering and harsh attitude.

The Bear Pit really is the ideal venue for this particular play. Small and intimate with a centre stage and seating on all four sides, bringing the audience in close proximity with the characters until you feel almost that you are encroaching on their lives, and witness to their individual pain as the drama unfolds.

Immediately you are captured and fascinated by the characters of the Humble family – mother Flora (Pamela Hickson) and son Felix (Richard Sandle-Keynes), and the Pye family, dad George ( David Derrington and his daughter Rosie (Zoe Mortimer). Then there’s Jim the Gardener (David Gresham) and family friend Mercy Lott ( Charlotte Froud) who is desperately trying to keep everyone happy and calm, when deep down anger, and frustration is pushing Felix and others to breaking point, and Flora into the arms of her long-time lover.

These excellent actors have clearly studied their characters and understand their complex personalities. They each play their role brilliantly. Special mention to Felix – the Humble Boy and his mother, Flora. Great acting as she reduces this ‘near genius’ of a theoretical physicist to a stammering wreck as she systematically demoralises him with every turn of phrase. Their relationship and Felix’s own desperate need to search for, grasp and understand the quantum theories of just about everything – is driving him to near insanity.

Yet there is plenty of humour in this play as well as lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way. And there’s bees, honey bees and bumble bees who play a big part in their story, even though we don’t see any.

If you’re lucky enough to get tickets, as I believe the production is a sell-out, you will not be disappointed with the Humble Boy. A wonderful play performed by great actors.


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