Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: Lee Hall (book and lyrics), Elton John (music)
Based on: their film
Cast: Brodie Donoguher, Thomas Hazelby, Euan Garrett, Nat Sweeney, Ruthie Henshall, Deka Walmsley, Matthew Seadon-Young, Gillian Elisa, Howard Crossley, Phil Snowden
Seen on: 26.10.2015
Billy (either Brodie Donoguher, Thomas Hazelby, Euan Garrett or Nat Sweeney) lives with his father (Deka Walmsley), his brother (Matthew Seadon-Young) and his grandmother (Gillian Elisa) in a small mining town in northern England. While the miners are on prolongued strike, people try and keep up some kind of routine. For Billy this includes going to boxing training every week. But one day Billy stays behind after class and gets caught up in the ballet training. He discovers that dancing is much more to his liking than boxing anyway.
I’m a huge fan of the film that this play was based on and I had heard only good things about the play in advance. Plus, it was my third attempt to catch it in London and I had even missed the transmission in Austrian cinemas earlier this year. So when it finally worked out this time, you can imagine that my anticipation was strong and my expectations were high. Happily the play has no problems fulfilling those expectations.
I went with C. who didn’t know anything about the play or the movie or the story and he also liked it a lot, so you don’t have to be in love with the story to love the play. But I had a hard time separating my love for the film from the play and I caught myself comparing both a lot. Usually that will end up to the detriment of whatever comes later, but in this case I thought that the play acquits itself equally well as the film.
The music is extremely nice and very memorable, the story is, of course great, and they do a lot with the stage design in a minimalistic way that feels completely elaborate. There is nothing I can find fault with there.
But as is fitting for a play that is all about fighting to express yourself and about a boy who expresses himself through dancing, it is the choreographies and the dancing that really make the play what it is. More than once I had goosebumps all over watching Billy dance. (Unfortunately I don’t know which of the Billies we saw that night, but I suspect that all four alternating Billies are excellent.)
And I cried of course, at least as much as I laughed. There is such a beautiful energy about the story that even though not everything goes right in the play, you leave it fortified and lighthearted somehow. I absolutely loved it.