Belt Up's The Boy James
Belt Up Theatre in association with Jethro Compton Ltd
This is practically a one man show, or rather a one boy show: although ably assisted by James Wilkes as the grown-up James and Lucy Farrett as the strange young girl this is very much Jethro Compton's show. Compton as the pajama-clad lead ably regresses back to childhood for the role.
The plot itself is quite slight, how innocence and childhood are lost. Compton, though, engages with the audience in the most delightful way, getting everyone up on their feet to play around. He exudes a childlike energy and wide-eyed naivety.
Belt Up's trade mark use of audience interaction works well for this piece through Compton's uninhibited and lively performance. The interaction allows a lot more empathy as it moves to darker territory and without it I doubt the audience would be left so stunned and in some cases teary-eyed at the end.
One problem perhaps just with the performance I saw was the last speech, several pieces of the play were read by members of the audience as Compton's character couldn't read the letters he'd been given. However the last letter, which was crucial to the ending, was rather poorly read and I failed to get the full meaning.
Nonetheless a great performance by a rising star whose come a long way since I first saw him in Tony! The Blair Musical.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin