The Incredible Book Eating Boy is an engaging production on all counts. It’s funny, playful and visual with a positive message about books. The story opens with a twist to the book title – Henry (the book eating boy) was having a nightmare of a boy-eating-book monster. We were swiftly introduced to Henry’s quirky family (his Dad and sister) and their really adorable fat cat (Fred) who brought plenty of laughter.
Directed by Frank Newman, the production is beautifully staged. The lovely set and vintage costumes transported us into the whimsical world of Oliver Jeffer’s picture book while cleverly incorporating the plot into every aspect of the ingenious stage design. The intimate setting of the Drama Theatre at School of The Arts (SOTA) allows the audience to sit in close proximity to the stage enabling us to lap up every word, nuance, facial expression, pun and joke.
The talented cast of three (Gabriel Fancourt, Madeline Jones and Jo Turner) took turns playing multiple roles, creating characters the young audience can relate to. I particularly love the clever prop transformations and the excellent puppetry to maneuver Fred the cat to add to the comic elements. Fred’s poo scene at the side-walk was both hilarious and yet realistic. Henry’s book eating scenes were given a slightly magical touch, as if to warn the young kids that it is unreal (and should not be copied).
Parents can relate to having an inquisitive child like Henry who never stops asking ‘Why’; the kids can relate to Henry’s cheekiness, boundless energy and his love for books from trigonometry, geometry to history, astronomy and geography (just to name a few). I thought the recipe segment where Henry conducted a live cooking show was brilliant – lots of puns used to churn out ‘book dishes’ good enough to eat such as ‘caramelised atlas with crispy dictionary salad’ and ‘storybook souffle’. Dana thought the actors were very creative in portraying how the books were ‘eaten’ and then ‘regurgitated’. She rated the production fantastic and so did I!
The message that it’s better to read books than chow down on them is a dramatic way to inspire children. It exhorts the value of reading books (much to the glee of all parents) as books ‘solves your problems and takes you to far away places’. The production ends with Henry finally learning his lesson that there is no shortcut to being the smartest person on earth. In fact, the audience shares in his joy when he rediscovers his love for reading which drives home the message to children how exciting books can be. This play is fun for the whole family from 3 and up. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t miss it!
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ABOUT THE INCREDIBLE BOOK EATING BOY
The Incredible Book Eating Boy is about Henry who gains intelligence by eating books. Just as Henry was about to devour another page of the book so that he’ll be the smartest boy in the world, he finds that all the information he’s obtained are in a mess! Join a cast of three as they bring the unique tale of The Incredible Book Eating Boy to life the use of songs, movement and puppetry in this 50 minute production, adapted for the stage by Maryam Master and directed by Frank Newman.
Watch the trailer here!
The Incredible Book Eating Boy (A Play by Maryam Master)
Show Date: Wed, 20 – Sun, 24 May 2015
Fri, 22 May: 4.30pm
Sat, 23 May: 11am & 2pm
Sun, 24 May: 11am, 2pm & 4.30pm