The Boy James – 2012 Adelaide Fringe

Presented by Guy Masterson's Centre for International Theatre (C.I.T.) in association with Theatre Tours International, Jethro Compton Ltd. and Belt Up Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 26th February 2012.

This performance uses the same small room as Outland and, thus, the same set, with a few furniture rearrangements. A desk and chair sits in the centre of this cluttered room, with the audience sitting around the walls. We are greeted and hurried in by Jethro Compton, dressed in striped pyjamas and portraying a young boy. Once settled we are instructed to mingle and make a new best friend, before he has us playing childhood games, such as Chinese Whispers and Wink Murder. He is waiting, as are we through his engaging us in the action, for his friend James, who will take us all on an adventure.

The script, by Charles Write, makes reference to another writer of children's fantasy, J. M. (James) Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up. Having been to Outland, we now travel to Neverland. Dominic Allen, who also plays James, has directed this work, recapturing the idyllic days of childhood and exploring the poignancy of finally having to let it go, forever.

While we wait with The Boy, a young girl in a nightdress appears, played by Serena Manteghi, who at first is silent, later explaining that he had invited her to join him on an adventure when they had met in the park. She can be seen as the boy's imaginary friend, or as the Wendy to his Peter Pan.

James arrives and The Boy is rapturously excited at the prospect of another adventure together, but James picks up a suitcase, saying that he has lost somebody and must leave. The Boy becomes insistent and tries to stop his departure but James insists he has no more time for games and adventures, that it is time to end them.

He leaves the distraught Boy, his younger self, with a letter that he has written explaining why he has gone forever. Unable to read, The Boy recruits a member of the audience to read it to him. I, silence, he encourages to audience to file out, hand in hand, still silent.

Before the arrival of James, the story has been light, fun and joyous, but is about to take a turn into darker corners. Wendy tried to convince Peter and the Lost Boys to return to the real world and adulthood, and so The Girl does the same, but more forcibly, introducing alcohol, bad language and violent sex, damning The Boy to the loss of his innocence, which is what this play is all about. We all have to grow up and loss of innocence is a part of that.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” [1 Corinthians 11, St. James version] simply and elegantly describes that point to which we must all come, when we let go of our childhoods and forever attempt to silence the inner child in order to survive as adults in a harsh world. This beautiful, but sometimes brutal play, with its amazingly informed and powerful performances from these three magical actors, has the ability, even if only briefly, to awaken your inner child and give you back your childhood. Go to spend an hour with them and learn to play again. See their production of Outland as well, and become very young again for two hours.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Adelaide Fringe – The Boy James
CIT Adelaide – The Boy James

Venue: Tiny Lounge, Adelaide College of the Arts (AC Arts, TAFE), 39 Light Square, Adelaide
Season: To 18th March 2012
Duration: 60min
Tickets: $19 to $21
Bookings: FringeTix 1300-FRINGE (1300 374 643), FringeTix outlets, or online

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