Wonder Boy review: When words get in the way, it’s time to summon a very special superhero…

Wonder Boy review: When words get in the way, it’s time to summon a very special superhero…

Verdict: Kind of wonderful

Evaluation:

No prizes for guessing that a show called Wonder Boy would be cartoonish. The real wonder of Ross Willis’ play (which premiered at Bristol Old Vic earlier this year and is now, thanks to an agreement with Digital Theatre, available as a digital stream) is that its methods are wildly, incredibly exaggerated, but its message is somehow plausible.

What rings true is the character of 12-year-old Sonny and the extent and hell of his stutter. When asked about his name by Miss Fish (Jenny Fitzpatrick), a panto-wicked, cat-obsessed school principal, he starts with an “s” sound and a few minutes later, he has no more. In Sally Cookson’s deeply moving, brightly colored and powerfully visualized production, Raphel Famotibe’s stunning Sonny is buried under a pile of huge S-shaped letters, thankfully made of foam so they can’t hurt him. of badness. Unlike his crippling stutter.

The review of Raphel Famotibe (Sonny) of Ramesh Mayyappan (Captain Chatter) in Wonder Boy

The review of Raphel Famotibe (Sonny) of Ramesh Mayyappan (Captain Chatter) in Wonder Boy

Sonny retreats to his sketchbook, creating Captain Chatter, who communicates effortlessly through Roy Lichtenstein-style captions, “POW”, “KAPOW”, flashing across the back screen.

Played by quiet, super-smooth actor Ramesh Meyyappan as an old-school sci-fi hero, he’s Sonny’s constant companion. Until some mean kids at school stole Sonny’s sketchbook.

At a loss for words, a broken Sonny rips out his own vocal cords and crushes them. Those austere stage directions, “Sonny tears out his vocal cords,” are typewritten, as are all the dialogue, including every endlessly repeated letter of every elusive syllable. I thought the rest would be silence.

Character: What rings true is the character of 12-year-old Sonny (pictured) and the extent and hell of his stutter

Character: What rings true is the character of 12-year-old Sonny (pictured) and the extent and hell of his stutter

Coming to Sonny’s aid is comic book villain Roshi (the hilarious Juliet Agnes) who boasts that “ketchup defines me” and whose summary of Hamlet (“a**t version of The Lion King”) is a kick stopped foot.

Far more significant is another outrageously scatological, crass, and super sworn creation, Miss Wainwright, a recovering stutterer. Made miraculously persuasive by Amanda Lawrence, she’s the fantastical figure all kids wish their teachers were. She helps Sonny “slip into a word” and, in the end, find expression for the terrible trauma that has silenced him.

Wonderful theatre.

Tickets available now, from £15 (early bird tickets, book in advance until May 22). Ticket office: [email protected] / 0117 987 7877.

Far more significant is another outrageously scatological, crass and super sweary creation, Miss Wainwright (pictured Amanda Lawrence), a recovering stutterer.

Far more significant is another outrageously scatological, crass and super sweary creation, Miss Wainwright (pictured Amanda Lawrence), a recovering stutterer.

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