Humble Boy is a very English play about family relationships, set in a summer garden, first performed at the National Theatre in 2001. The author draws on many elements of Hamlet but what might be just a laboured parody of a classic play becomes instead, in Charlotte Jones’s hands, a theatrical tour-de-force, filled with witty repartee, passionate confrontations, and otherworldly encounters—just like the original. We can probably trace this success to the fact that, like Shakespeare, Ms. Jones began her career in theatre as an actor, learning from first-hand experience what keeps a scene alive on stage. After Humble Boy she went on to write, among other plays, a musical version of Wilkie Collins’s gothic classic, The Woman in White (2004) in collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Felix, an astrophysicist at Cambridge, returns to his parents’ home on the occasion of his beekeeping father’s funeral. The difficult relationships he has with his Queen Bee of a mother and his former girlfriend Rosie are played out in the garden as he grieves and eventually comes to understand a little more about love. None of the characters are without their flaws and a number are at times downright unlikeable but all are finely drawn and hold our interest.
This is a play for audiences who, while enjoying the charm of a middle England, domestic comedy, will also like its intelligent subtextual details and at times touching seriousness.
Director: Jane Buckland (London Assurance. The Government Inspector)
Felix Tim O’Keefe (All My Sons. After the Dance)
Flora Trish Osborne-King (All My Sons)
Rosie Niki Mylonas (The Government Inspector)
Mercy Sue Williams (The Glass Menagerie. Calendar Girls)
George Steve Williams (Calendar Girls. Dick Barton)
Jim Keith Jeremiah (Habeus Corpus)