Our Boy

August 12, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Engaging

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Tue 9 – Sat 20 Aug 2022
Review by Yvonne Paterson

Building Blocks Collective’s production of Helen Hammond’s Our Boy, at The Royal Scots Club for the first two weeks of the Fringe, is staged in a manner that is in keeping with the subject of the play.

Inspired by real events, Our Boy explores the complexities of life for an autistic young boy and his family dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault. This is candid drama that promotes a greater understanding and support for young people and their families living with any kind of disability or abuse.

A scene from Our Boy. Pic: Building Blocks Collective.

Neurodiversity is built into the show’s structure. Audience members are offered a “sensory synopsis – Trigger and content” pamphlet, a guide to help those with sensory and communication requirements prepare for the experience of attending the performance.

Director Chris Honey introduces the production, welcoming the actors onto the stage and encourages them to introduce themselves. Honey highlights that the performance is sensory considerate and that if any issues make the audience uncomfortable they are free to move around. The play is staged with the house lights left up.

The play opens with the distraught Karen searching for her son Jo who has failed to return home from school, only to find him sitting on a swing alone, hurt and filthy. There is real anguish in Angela Milton’s performance as Karen, displaying feelings of worry and concern as she and Jo go through the motions of cleaning up and coming to terms with the incident.

Karen reaches out to Jo’s absent father Andrew for support. Honey’s decision to have Karen and Andrew address the audience under a spotlight at opposite ends of the stage really adds to the feeling of regret as they recall how fun and good their relationship once was, reflecting on how they felt at the prospect of being parents and how Jo’s diagnosis eventually drove them apart.

connection

Kareem Nasif gives an engaging and believable performance as Andrew, conveying his emotional turmoil, anguish and guilt. At first Andrew is alien to understanding his son but begins to try and form a connection with him.

Andrew and Jo’s joint enthusiasm for video games is the first step to bringing them together and watching them having fun and settling down to see who can score the most points makes a lovely image. However, poor sight lines favour one half of the audience making this moment lost for some.

Dorian Todd is compelling as Jo with a convincing and brave performance when addressing the audience from a spotlit swing, giving his take on the assault. His matter of fact delivery makes it all the more hard hitting.

As the family tries to accept what has happened and move on they begin to rediscover each other. Creating a sense of optimism that together they will find a way to cope with the difficult challenges they face.

With the cast well invested in its script and approaching the serious issues raised with care and understanding Our Boy is definitely a piece that is thought provoking.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
The Royal Scots Club (Hepburn Suite), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Tuesday 9 – Saturday 20 August 2022
Daily (not Sun 14): 13:30.
Tickets and details: Book here.

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