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Review of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

With the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and all the other camps of the Second World War barely a month ago. The tale of a young boy meeting and befriending a young Jewish boy being held in one such camp is as relevant as could be. Not that this tale should never not be relevant, because as it the play confirms itself, it should always be held up as a warning to prevent such a terrible event happening again.

The play adapted by Angus Jackson from the book by John Boyne and is presented as a "fable", and this is perhaps the only clumsy element of the production. Little is served by purporting it as this and the second ending to wrap up the "fable" feels an unnecessary element, whereas the more powerful ending would have had greater impact on the departing audience. The structure is very episodic, even including titles for these episodes projected upon the large ominous wall at the back of the stage. This structure is not a bad thing however as it keeps the path of the story clear on the simplistic set, and keeps a pacy movement to the piece.


The revolving stage and swift movement of various items of furniture move us with ease from the family home, and to Out-With, and into the countryside around the camp and director Joe Murphy and set designer Robert Innes Hopkins are to be commended on this. The journey from Bruno's bedroom to the camp fence is also a spectacular scene which is superbly choreographed.


The cast are generally excellent but this Children's Touring Partnership show hinges on the two young stars in the leads. As Bruno, Cameron Duncan on the evening I saw (there are three actors for each of the two lead roles on the tour) was a stunningly confident performer. On stage for much of the play, his timing for his knowing jokes aimed at his family and adults is exemplary, as well as his naive innocence in his conversations with Shmuel which is lovingly played. As Shmuel on the evening played by Sam Peterson is also an equally excellent performer in his sad and persecuted role. Both young stars are near faultless throughout their challenging and hefty roles.


This production presents  a tough subject in an interesting way. From its clever use of the revolving stage, to the excellent projection at the back, and through to the quality cast, it presents an evening to once again be admired rather than enjoyed and comes well recommended.


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Performance reviewed: Tuesday 3rd March, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is on at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 7th March, 2015, details here: 
http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Royal/TBITSP

The show is then touring until the 27th June, 2015. Details can be found at http://www.theboyinthestripedpyjamas.com/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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