The Boy Who Cried

Theatre, Drama
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A little girl has gone missing and withdrawn teenager Sam Elvin is the prime suspect. But is he a monster? Rough Haired Pointer theatre company roll werewolves and absurdism together in this imaginative, blackly comic look at alienation and our fear of what might be lurking inside other people.

From Sam’s red coat to the set’s exaggerated minimalism, Mary Franklin’s production is a Brechtian fairy tale – a topsy-turvy world of ‘Protection’ officers who hum ‘Peter and the Wolf’ while hunting down suspected lycanthropes against a projected moon. ‘Werewolves’ lurk behind every door and depression is a fearful fable. Difference is intolerable.

Jake Curran is superb as Protection Officer Thompson, full of sharp edges, sly chumminess and obsession as he invades the Elvins’s home and seduces Sam’s lonely mother (a twitchy, fragile Shelley Lang) in pursuit of her son. Burning grief underpins the plot and Curran’s character would rather invent a beast than face his real nightmare.

The rest of the cast are strong, from Jordan Mallory-Skinner’s hollow-eyed Sam – trapped in the torture rack of his own head – to Loz Keystone’s and Hamish MacDougall’s comic double-act as two trainee officers. They capture the feverish matter-of-factness of Matt Osman’s script.

Its bite is blunted by an overlong, conceit-stretching first half, while a shift into twisted nursery rhyming as the tone darkens is only fitfully successful. But ‘The Boy Who Cried’ is far from a howler. When its claws are out, it’s fiercely original and sharply funny.

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