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The Theatreguide.London Review

Bush Theatre  December 2018

This one-hour monologue by Tom Wells, with music by Matthew Robins, is a charming little fable that lies somewhere in the overlap of theatre-for-schools and theatre for grown-ups.

It is likely to delight both audiences equally, though perhaps in different ways, the adults enjoying a warmly affectionate imagining of how nice young people can be while the kids see a lot that is real and maybe even get an uplifting message from it.

The premise is that a fifteen-year-old boy convincingly and attractively played by Andrew Finnigan is giving an extra-credit presentation in the school auditorium. His project consists of explaining how another project failed.

His best friend, who is a girl, wanted to stage a synchronised swimming display in the local baths, not adequately considering that he was the only other one in her cast and he couldn't swim. How he failed her and how he tried to make it up to her is the subject of his narrative, which he punctuates with several elementary but attractive self-written songs.

Much of the charm of the piece lies in the lad's innocent earnestness and the skill with which the creators capture the precise mix of impressive talent and awkward inexperience in the boy's writing and performance.

As he sings 'I am at that weird age/Half of me is all grown up/But I've still got action figures on a shelf' we spot and smile at the mix of clever insight and the difficulty of squeezing too many words into the melody.

The script is dotted with little insights, observations and turns of phrase that mark this boy as worthy of our attention.

Watching a Gay Pride parade it is mentioned and accepted as hardly worth mentioning that he, the girl and another boy who enters the story are all gay he spots 'a massive paper-mache Gok Wan' and 'an eight foot statue of Sir Ian McKellen dressed as Gandalf on a stick' and he pauses in the process of sinking to the bottom of the pool to notice 'an old forgotten Elastoplast'.

Meanwhile, he involves the audience by passing out rainbow flags for the parade scene, asking us to don blue plastic raincoats in order to collectively play the role of the pool and having someone squirt him with a water pistol for the drowning sequence.

It is all thoroughly engaging and entertaining, and actor Andrew Finnigan and director Jane Fallowfield keep the very fragile bubble there are actual bubbles at one point afloat through a total respect for the character that is never blind to his comic side.

The lad's presentation ends with the moral of his story, expressed in a song about how you have to 'dive, dive, dive right in', and that may be the message young audiences take from it.

The one we get is that, judging from this boy and his friends, the kids are all right.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -  Drip - Bush Theatre 2018

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