nick730 (nick730) wrote,

Theatre review: The Boy on the Swing

At the start of Joe Harbot's play The Boy on the Swing, everyman Earl Hunt finds God's business card in the street. Calling the number on it leads him into a surreal journey through the offices of Hope & Trust, a company who (for a fee) promise to let him have some one-on-one time with a bearded, elderly man who they're reasonably sure is probably, almost definitely God. Or possibly Santa. This trailer for Joe Murphy's production at the Arcola is taken from the opening scene, and I think gives a good indication of what's in store.

Harbot's musing on faith in the 21st Century takes the form of a gentle, likeable comedy in which Earl (adorable Michael Shelford) finds himself swept up by the surreal red tape of messrs Hope & Trust (Will Barton and Peter Bourke) and their scatty receptionist Jim (Nick Blood.) Apart from a brief attempt to go a bit dark and sinister which doesn't quite fit in, this is a hugely enjoyable, funny play whose cast have nailed the ever-so-slightly off-kilter tone needed to make it work; its philosophical musings don't come to any more conclusions than any religious discussion but there's something really absorbing about the eventual encounter with a slightly absent-minded, melancholy deity (a spookily well-cast Fred Pearson) who's a bit put out that nobody's ever thrown him a birthday party, because he doesn't have a birthday. It's not an earth-shattering piece but it's one I found easy to love, and it's a shame the smaller Studio 2 was less than half-full tonight.

The Boy on the Swing by Joe Harbot is booking until the 9th of April at the Arcola Theatre.
Tags: theatre, theatre reviews
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