Review: The Boy Friend, Shaw Theatre

“We want to have, we plot to have, for it’s so dreary not to have that certain thing called ‘The Boyfriend'”

If you are quick, you might be able to catch the second show of this production of The Boy Friend at the Shaw Theatre in St Pancras by the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. Written by Sandy Wilson in the 1950s, this enduring classic, a light-hearted pastiche of 1920s shows, is constantly being revived by professionals and amateurs alike, last appearing significantly in London at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park in 2007.

Set in a finishing school on the French riviera, it’s a classic girl-meets-boy story, with secretary Polly falling for errand boy Tony, despite being incognito in their lowly positions and are both actually filthy rich. Their story is placed in the midst of lots of charleston-dancing young ladies and their intendeds, a bunch of madly flirtatious adults, and it’s all jolly japes, flapper dresses and a set of very tuneful songs.

Nikkola Burnhope stole the show as Madame Dubonnet: she seemed to be having a ball onstage and this relaxed attitude shone through in an extremely confident and comic performance. Rosie Fletcher as Maisie and Monique Young as the maid Hortense were also good, and I could watch Louisa Connolly-Burnham sing and dance all day long, she was another very natural performer. The girls definitely are stronger in this group: the boys are not served well by particularly interesting roles, but all needed to work on delivering more charisma onstage, Harrison Davies in particular was an excellent dancer but just needed to transfer some of that energy over to his acting as well. RIchard King was the best here as the elderly Lord Brockhurst.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes (with interval)
Programme cost: £1
Note: As the programme puts it, this is a play with “no profanity, no violence, no nudity, nor even a message, other than…love conquers all” but moreover, it is just a highly entertaining, light-hearted, musical evening out. WIth some cracking choreography and sterling vocal work, Tring Park did not disappoint and impressed me, given that most of them looked 17 or 18: I like to think we’ll be seeing some of these faces again on the stage.

 

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