A slight variation on the usual disclaimer: This was a preview performance, as are all the handful of London shows. Wolfboy
is actually opening properly at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.
So the second of my four consecutive nights at the theatre, and a choice not made for the most artistic of reasons. Yes, adaptor/director Russell Labey was the local newsreader when I was at university, and the comedy gold one Children In Need night as he tried to present while getting progressively, obviously more sloshed means I feel I owe him my support. But basically I trudged all the way to Turnham Green because the lovely Gregg Lowe is in this.
Then again, judging from the response to Lowe when I reviewed New Boy
a couple of months ago, I'd probably be in a minority if I didn't
go a bit funny over him. The good news is, considering how silly the show sounds on paper it's surprisingly good. I'm not familiar with the original play by Brad Fraser but I don't imagine the musical deviates from it that much. Bernie (Lowe) is a 17-year-old who on the surface has it all, but has recently attempted suicide. In the psychiatric hospital where he ends up he refuses to cooperate with the medical staff but instead strikes up a friendship with the boy in the next room, David (Paul Holowaty) who thinks he's a werewolf and frequently tries to bite people. The two strike up a plan to escape, as Bernie has his reasons for not wanting to go home to his older brother (Lee Latchford Evans. Yes, that Lee Latchford Evans. LeeFromSteps.)
It's a very, very confident production - you wouldn't have known from the performances that this was only the second public performance. They've put together an engaging 75-minute show and you do get involved in the characters. Some of what we find out about their pasts is stuff we've seen before, but part of David's backstory is quite genuinely shocking. The music actually works well with the story, although Leon Parris' songs don't have much variety and Holowaty's singing voice is, er, not the best. Although it's a moody piece there's a few laugh-out-loud moments, mostly provided by Katie Beard's deadpan nurse. The ending edged a bit too much into melodrama for me, but I like that they took the risks they did with it. And yes, Lowe and Holowaty strip down to their boxers so even if you don't like the play you probably won't mind.Wolfboy the Musical
by Brad Fraser, Russell Labey and Leon Parris is booking until the 4th of July at the Tabard Theatre, then from the 7th-31st of August at George Square Theatre 4, Edinburgh.