Reviewed by Ilze Lee
We are no different from the vast amount of UK families where it concerns all things David Walliams. He is an absolute favourite, and we have all of his books. Most of them read many times over.
Billionaire Boy has made for many night-time readings and we watched it on television. So when we got the chance of reviewing this theatre show, it’s fair to say it was an immediate ‘yes please’ from us all.
The Birmingham Stage Company did a cracking job producing this show. We started laughing the minute we walked in, only to see many, many roles of toilet paper setting the stage. Jacqueline Trousdale (Set and Costume Design) did a marvellous job with this.
Joe (played by Matthew Gordon) is a very rich but rather lonely young boy. His dad (Jason Furnival) became a billionaire after designing toilet paper that everyone uses. Joe might have the biggest and best rooms, but money means very little when you don’t get to spend it with people you care about. He also gets bullied at his posh new school. As it turns out, being rich doesn’t exclude you from that and ‘Bum boy’ is only one of many insults being thrown at him.
Joe’s wishes are simple. He wants to spend quality time with his dad, and he wants a real friend. When his dad tries to give him an extra million for his birthday, Joe finally gets through to him, convincing him the best gift would be to start at a new school as a regular boy instead.
Here Joe meets Bob, (brilliantly played by Davy Bell) and the two soon become firm friends. They navigate the horrors of long-distance running, school bullies and awful offerings from the dinner lady together. Finally, Joe has someone he can trust. With a shared love for chocolate, they are just about the shopkeeper’s favourite customers too!
Unfortunately, he has become too accustomed to every problem being fixed with money, and hurt Bob’s feelings by trying to buy off the school bullies. After a helicopter dash with a late assessment, Joe’s cover is blown. Everybody wants to be his best friend, hoping to get a few extra £££’s from it, even terrible cook but possibly kind-hearted Mrs Trafe (played by Emma Matthews). Everyone but Bob, who is not interested in Joe’s money, only his friendship.
Things quickly go from bad to worse, with the dad getting engaged to Sapphire (played by Rosie Coles) who is clearly only interested in the money, a good teacher getting the sack and an actor being paid to be friends with Joe. It’s no wonder he decides to run away from it all.
Shopkeeper Raj (played by Aosof Afzal) finds Joe hiding and starts helping him to sort things out. As with every good story, it gets worse before it gets better. Everybody is suing the dad because Bumfresh causes extreme purple bottoms and they lose it all. All except for each other though, which in the end is what matters.
This production is a laugh a minute. We especially loved the performances of Bob, Raj and Jayden (Bernard Mensah). In fact, the children tried to do a bopping walk on the way to the car, wanting to be as cool as Jayden.
We had a wonderful time. The show was everything we hoped for. A definite 5/5.
The Royal & Derngate Theatre staff were friendly and helpful, and there is more than enough car parking nearby.
Tickets cost from £16 (booking fees may apply).
Billionaire Boy is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 16-19 October 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811