Farm Boy

Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Daniel Buckroyd

Mercury Theatre

Mercury Theatre

From 17 June 2017 to 18 June 2017

Review by Mary Mazzilli

Michael Morpurgo’s sequel to War Horse is a sweet tale that celebrates family bonds and values. The special bond is between Albert’s son and his grandfather.

Albert’s son is very fond of his grandfather and he often visits him.

In one of his visits, his grandfather reveals his secret, which is that he cannot read or write. The grandson decides to teach his grandfather, but he has to learn fast because the boy is going to leave for Australia in a few months.

It is during this period that old stories are told about Albert and the mythical tractor, which stands as symbol for the bond between generations. The story of how the tractor was obtained by Albert is one of many that show not only the bond between the men of this family but also their bond to nature, farming and the countryside.

Daniel Buckryod’s adaptation not only focuses on the tractor but also gives a complete overview of the family history, bringing to life much of their back-story, in most of the first half of the show. Narratively, this makes the adaptation an elaborate piece. Essentially a two-hander with Ru Hamilton playing many instruments on stage, there is a lot of storytelling being done on stage as the grandson and grandfather are engaged in vivacious interactions.

Buckroyd’s adaptation speaks well to an older audience and this makes it an entertaining piece of theatre. For a much younger audience, the complex narrative could present a bit of a stretch.

Danny Child as the grandson and Gary Mackey as Grandpa are entertaining and versatile in keeping the energy and the attention of the youngest among the audience. In its simple staging with a big old tractor in the middle, Hallam’s direction is effective for most part.

Although I was expecting a bit more fun, a bit more physicality and a bit more playfulness, Farm Boy has a lot to offer for a bit more adult audience and has enough charm for the little ones too.