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Feb 25

FRINGE: Belt Up Theatre’s The Boy James – AC ARTS – 4.5K

Greeted by a young, excitable boy in striped pyjamas and led into the plush, dreamlike surroundings of Belt Up Theatre’s performance space, you can tell that this is going to be a unique experience. Once everyone is sitting comfortably (though watch out, if the audience is big enough, some of the seating will be on cushions on the ground) the childlike atmosphere is enhanced by some fun games and the promise of an adventure once James arrives. A girl also emerges, invited by The Boy to come along.

Once James eventually appears however, it becomes apparent that the evening is not going to proceed as planned. Into this world of innocence and joy comes a tension which is profound yet ambiguous, threatening to tear the space apart. Adult vices – alcohol, sex, bad language – infiltrate, and devour the purity, as The Boy tries desperately to stop this wave of destruction. You are not separated from the action, there is no forth wall. The characters acknowledge your presence and draw you in to become a part of the story.

Under the direction of Dominic Allen, the trio of actors create an intense dynamic, as relationships change and control shifts from one to another. As James, Allen is a mysterious, desperate figure, who seems sadly resigned to his fate, while Serena Manteghi delicately balances innocence, cruelty, vulnerability and ambivalence in her portrayal of The Girl. Embodying the naïve boy, Jethro Compton is mesmerising in an emotional and compelling performance in which there are no holds barred as he shows you his despair and loss. This is a powerful and affecting show, the themes and feeling of which draw you in and pierce your core.

Kryztoff rating: 4.5K

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