Review by Lisa Chapman
“Humble Boy” by Charlotte Jones
Walking into the auditorium of the Thameside Theatre last night would have confused anyone! I had either been transported to the Chelsea Flower Show or the Ground Force team were hiding somewhere in the wings ready to burst out and thrust a champagne bottle at me! The stage had been transformed into a beautiful English country garden overnight (or, in reality, over a few hours that afternoon). Then I started to worry. Would this stunning set detract from the play content and the acting itself? Absolutely not is the answer.
The Stafford Players are the winners of the North Staffordshire Festival and from what we saw last night must have won this fair and square. They are a very accomplished cast who all played their part superbly without exception.
The story centres on Felix Humble (David Harfield), a young, thirsty for knowledge physicist who has returned home for his father’s funeral, and his domineering, overbearing mother Flora Humble (Cecile Harrison). You then have Flora’s lifelong friend and confidante Mercy Lott (Voirrey Steward) and the gentle gardener Jim (Ray Braziel) who is an unobtrusive constant throughout the play. Bring on the brash, abrasive neighbour George Pye (Mike Harrison) and his feisty daughter Rosie (Rachael Shaw) there you have it. Oh, and, of course, I mustn’t forget the bees.
I am not going to single out any particular member of this cast as they were all extremely capable and I enjoyed watching each of them immensely. This was a very difficult script with yo-yoing emotions for each actor to master along with Latin names and dialogue to quote and they breezed it. The musical touches were cleverly thought through and I loved that the audience could hear the tinny music coming from George’s Sony Walkman.
A great play with an unexpected touching conclusion. I am glad I am not the adjudicator having to choose any award winners this week because I really wouldn’t know where to start!