The Boy In The Dress by the RSC
The Boy In the Dress is the latest British Musical to hit the stage. Based on the novel by David Walliams and with music and lyrics by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers this show was bound to attract a lot of attention.
The Boy in the Dress tells of Dennis, a keen footballer who becomes interested in a yellow dress he sees on the cover of Vogue. The dress initially simply reminds him of his mum who has recently left his dad but the dress and the magazine spark an interest in fashion itself. Soon this common love for fashion ignites an unlikely friendship between Dennis and Lisa James, the most beautiful girl in the school. She encourages him to embrace his interest and it leads to a tale of discovery, friendship and football!
The story and the book work brilliantly. There is a wonderful message of acceptance and embracing your differences in there but there is also enough gags to keep the children and the children at heart in the audience thoroughly entertained. The music by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers was also catchy and varied. There was everything from a bonkers disco ball inspired number called ‘Disco Symphony’ to a touching balled,’ When Things Fall Apart,’ sung by Lisa and Dennis. On top of this there were rousing chorus numbers that made me want to stand up in my seat alongside them and unexpected comedy numbers. The music for The Box in The Dress really ticks every box going.
The show is also a feast for the eyes. There are visual gags right from the opening number, as soon as the cast simultaneously pulled out a biscuit to dunk in their tea I knew I was in for a treat! The set design by Paul Atkinson was also a work of art. The designed enabled scaled down houses to be pushed around by the cast (think shopping trolley) and these then opened up into other parts of the set. The backdrop that was there for a large part of the show showed an ordinary suburban row upon row of grey houses with only the occasional splash of colour from quintessential British items such as a post box and a telephone box. This really helped cement the idea that life was ‘ordinary’ in this town.
Whilst The Boy in The Dress may be set in an ordinary town the cast were all far from ordinary. Playing Dennis on press night was Jackson Laing who immediately captured the audiences heart and carried the show with confidence beyond his years. Asha Banks played Lisa James and she is a star in the making. Her voice was astonishing, especially from someone so young and her energy meant that I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. The adult cast had a lot to live up to but luckily they all had bundles of character. Forbes Masson as Mr Hawtry reminded me very much of Mrs Trunchbull, a now iconic character in children’s minds and thanks to Masson’s brilliant portrayal Mr Hawtry could soon follow suit. Natasha Lewis as Darvesh’s Mum had some of the best lines of the show and she executed them all brilliantly, you could imagine many children’s minds flickering in recognition of when their own mum embarrasses them from Lewis’ portrayal.
Many theatre goers lament about the lack of British Musicals being developed but in The Boy In The Dress we have another success for British theatre on our hands. Witty, charming and thoroughly British, The Boy In The Dress sparkles on stage as brightly as Dennis’ sequinned dress.
The Boy in The Dress is currently on at the Royal Shakspeare Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon and is booking until 8th March.Visit their website for more information.