Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: New Boy, Tabard Theatre

Review: New Boy, Tabard Theatre

Published in The Stage, 07.05.2008

Giggling and giddy at its own intelligence, daring and wit, New Boy is infuriating.

Narcissistic and misguided in its self-perception, Russell Labey’s production makes a one-dimensional mockery of teenage anxieties about sexuality, sacrificing its integrity for gags.

Mark (Luke Kempner) forms a friendship with the dazzling new student Barry (Gregg Lowe), falling into a state of repression about his underlying lust. As Barry’s whirlwind sexual education incredulously ensnares his married French teacher and Mark’s brother Dan, Mark’s jealousy develops a homophobic edge.

Clumsily playing its hand almost immediately, New Boy is out of touch with the truth of its events and characters. It is all explication and streams of consciousness to the audience. For each of its few genuinely funny moments, we must sit through a seemingly endless flow of cheap puns and gratuitous vulgarities.

The puerility of Labey’s script is matched only by the immaturity of his direction, lacking detail and never missing an opportunity for a lazy gag. His young and inexperienced cast – all with obligatory badly-tied school ties – make the best of a raw deal.

New Boy treats its audience as it does its protagonist Mark: “too thick to notice anything until it’s jammed down your throat.”
Patronising and unsophisticated.

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