By Charlotte Jones
Rated 5 stars *****
There is/was a podcast with Charlotte Jones about Humble Boy, shown at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Unfortunately there isn’t a filmed version of the play.
Humble Boy is just the most terrific play that I keep hoping to tour, but the director Paul Miller always seems to be busy, maybe one day as steps were being made in Edinburgh at one point after I asked if an Edinburgh theatre may get it. It’s a long story… so onto the play that I think is just so wonderful and that thought has never left nor has it changed.
Nominated for 7 Off West End Awards
Best Female Performance Belinda Lang – 2 Point 4 Children, Duet For One and more…
Best Male Performance Jonathan Broadbent
Best Supporting Female Selina Cadell – Doc Martin
Best Supporting Male Paul Bradley – Holby City
Best Set Design Simon Daw
Best Director Paul Miller
My husband is dead and my only son, who has grown fat and strange, has just run away from his own Father’s funeral. I’ll be fine. Fine. At least those bastard bees are gone.
Felix Humble is drawn back to his family home after the death of his father, a biology teacher and amateur beekeeper. There in the garden he finds his waspish mother Flora, her downtrodden friend Mercy and suspiciously ever-present local businessman George Pye, whose daughter Rosie was once involved with Felix. A luncheon is arranged…
Felix is an astrophysicist who discovers that solving the riddle of his emotional life is considerably more challenging than the quest for a unified string theory.
Paul Miller directs Paul Bradley, Jonathan Broadbent, Selina Cadell, Rebekah Hinds, Belinda Lang and Christopher Ravenscroft.
Humble Boy is just so much fun, poignant, emotional, clever with a 5 star cast. This is a play that I saw pre-blog and now, as The Orange Tree Theatre have been highlighting it, it seems wonderfully right to write about it and really just to say how brilliant it is.
It is poignant and the wit of the characters is just perfect. Belinda Lang was just as brilliant as I knew she would be. I had seen her on stage before in Duet for One and was so taken by her acting, so I knew a trip to London to see this, whilst visiting a friend, was going to be worth it. We were so lucky to have front row seats. For those who don’t know; The Orange Tree Theatre is off the WestEnd in Richmond, London. It is a small round theatre. The stage is on the level of the front row (we actually had to walk on the neatly cobbled stones that created a path, that was part of the set to get to our seats) and the seats do practically go almost all the way round the circular stage. The price was incredibly good being off the West End, so sitting on the front row, as brave as it was of us, as an actor once said, was a “real treat”.
The set was amazing, it was all set within a garden and some, if not all the plants were actually real, we were super impressed. The play starts with humour and some rather fun dancing with Paul Bradley’s character and Belinda Lang’s character, who is waspish and both are full of life.
Felix, played by Jonathan Broadbent, ensures, that you feel sympathy with his character. Felix is a largely unsuccessful guy in his 30s, and a university lecturer and has a passion for Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Quantum Physics. His father, was a biologist with a passion for bees. A beehive that was accidentally destroyed by Flora, a vain woman who has just had a nose-job (played by Belinda Lang). She is “Queen Bee” in the community and her son is somewhat of a disappointment to her. I know, it doesn’t on paper sound like it would be amusing, but with quick quips and the acting make it so.
All the characters meet for a picnic lunch and suspicious goings on occur with the foodand more dramatic, yet shocking humourous and more poignant scenes play out, courteous of Selina Cadell’s character – Mercy as she serves up her husband’s ashes within her gazpacho after being in a bit of a tizzy and well, you can imagine how much more so when it is realised what’s been done!
Christopher Ravenscroft played the gardener well, with an air of mysteriousness about him.
The play is emotional and poignant and yet full of humour about life, death and bees.
Every single cast member were strong and absolutely wonderful and exceeded all expectations in their parts and all those nominations were well-deserved.
My 5 stars are not swayed by anything, including that I was incredibly lucky to have met the cast, a moment I will always treasure, as I do with any actors I have ever been lucky to have met. It really is, on merit, from the writer to the cast, to the production team etc, an excellent play and definitely up there in my top 5 plays that I’ve ever seen. If theatres ever re-open and this tours on a proper UK tour, especially with the same principle cast, it would be amazing to see again.