Billionaire Boy – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre
By Sandra Callard, July 2022
The stage conversion of comedian David Walliams’ massive selling kids’ novel Billionaire Boy is a madcap offering that had the young ones in the audience laughing and clapping with joy. I was there with my seven-year-old grandson and he was transfixed at the weird goings on and hilarious happenings on stage, and did in fact award the show one million out of 10 when asked!
Shouting, laughter and fun were the order of the night and the children loved it and the adults went home, slightly baffled perhaps, but happy.
I was aware that this show was not meant for grown-ups, but I do like the humour of Walliams and hoped I might enjoy a laugh or two. However, I soon realised the vast gap in humour between children and adults is sometimes difficult to bridge, and it took me some time to adjust. None of that mattered, however, because the children loved it, which after all was the idea, and my semi-restlessness was fleeting as I started to smile from the inside, buoyed along by the waves of childish laughter all around me.
What I could appreciate, however, was the skill of the actors as they brought themselves down to the level of children. A good half of the cast was made up of adults playing children, but this cast played it well and did manage to elicit a few laughs from the grown-ups along the way. I think also that, to adults, an adult playing a child is hilarious in itself, but a child somehow just accepts it, and simply finds humour in the things the man-child says and does.
The stage settings were excellent and were manoeuvred easily and smoothly when changes were needed. It is a skill that is hardly appreciated on stage, but these technicians were particularly neat and fast and the scenes were changed in seconds as the movers melted away silently. The section that brought the newly rich dad, played brilliantly by Matthew Mellalieu, onto the stage in a helicoptor or possibly some other sort of flying machine, was brilliant and beautifully done, and certainly made a massive impact with both children and adults alike.
“Out of the ordinary”
Joe, the rich boy who had no friends, was nicely played by Matthew Gordon, and he made the most of his sadness at being rich, and I loved Rosie Coles as Sapphire, the unloveable, money grasping girlfriend of Joe’s wealthy dad. Also standing out was Tuhin Chisti as the sweet shop owner as he described his perfectly ordinary wares with great gusto. In fact the whole of the cast played their parts well, and although this was a children’s play it could be enjoyed by the adults also as a professional and cleverly acted show.
This performance was something out of the ordinary for me as I rarely see shows for children, but I am glad I did as it brought a new type of humour to me, and I realised that children’s humour is a vivid strain of its own and it is important that they are introduced and nurtured in the ways of the theatre, and if Billionaire Boy is anything to go by, here’s a good place for them to start.