Susy Douch enjoys an evening of theatrical fun at the Theatre Royal Bath
Birmingham Stage Company has been hard at work again adapting another David Walliams book for the stage. Having previously seen Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie, and my son being a huge fan of the books, it was pretty certain that a fun evening’s entertainment lay ahead for us both with the latest show, Billionaire Boy.
Billionaire Boy tells the story of Joe Spud, the 12 year old heir to the Bumfresh fortune and the richest boy in the country. His father made his fortune with some innovative toilet roll products. Joe, the poor little rich boy has everything money can buy, and couldn’t want for anything but it’s the things that money can’t buy which he really wants. After changing schools to join the local comprehensive, Joe tries to keep his real identity hidden in the hope that he can be accepted for himself. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go to plan and there are a few challenges along the way.
With a small cast of nine and the BSC’s usual clever set engineering, the show stays true to Walliams’ original story line, even managing to create a very realistic helicopter scene. Whilst there is a slightly greater emphasis on musical theatre in this production, the songs remain relevant and the catchy tunes and choreography are lighthearted and entertaining to keep the story bouncing along.
There are of course plenty of bottom jokes and some inoffensive toilet humour, but thankfully this doesn’t overstep the mark. Few things make children snigger more than the thought of the Queen on the toilet, and the menu creations engineered by Mrs Trafe are sure to make any child thankful and appreciative of their own school dinners. Of course, Raj’s infamous shop has to make a couple of appearances; where else could you buy 10 chocolate bars and get one free?
The underlying message that money can’t buy everything is gently expressed, an important and valuable lesson in today’s over-consumerist society. There are other sound messages and life lessons portrayed, such as the need for caring, open and honest friendships, and how money can corrupt relationships, rather than reinforce them, but again these are expressed gently and not overbearing manner, although tugging a few heart strings gently along the way.
In the end, the true value of friendship and love shine though without being excessively moralistic. The production is, as the with other Walliams’ books, very well done with an energetic and talented young cast. The packed audience of young and old seemed to agree showing their appreciation with rapturous applause; it was obvious that everyone had been thoroughly entertained.
Billionaire Boy runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 5 October. The show is on tour across the UK until the end of 2020. Further details and booking available at www.theatreroyal.org.uk or via the Box Office 01225 448844.