Review: A parent reviews Billionaire Boy – the play

Matthew Gordon (Joe), Aosaf Afzal (Raj) Photo by Mark Douet

BritMums editor Roni Dutta took her 7-year-old son to see the Birmingham Stage Company’s latest production David Walliams’s Billionaire Boy, which is touring the UK until late 2020. (BritMums was gifted the tickets.) Here’s what they thought: 

What’s the story?

Adapted from the David Walliams novel for the stage by Neal Foster, Billionaire Boy is the riches-to-rags story of schoolboy Joe Spud. Joe’s dad made a fortune from his revolutionary brand of toilet paper Bum Fresh and is now one of the richest men in the world. On the face of it Joe lacks for nothing, but all he really wants is a friend who likes him for who he is. 

Catchy songs and a stage set made of loo roll

The Birmingham Stage Company production is impressive with an innovative theatre set made mostly out of toilet rolls (!) plus an energetic all-singing all-dancing cast. If you’ve ever been to one of their Horrible Histories stage shows, you’ll recognise the high-octane pace of their performance. Many of the cast effortlessly flit from playing one character to another with ease. The incredible Rosie Coles in particular, who plays Sapphire (and a handful of other parts), is rarely off stage. 

Humour that chimes with children and grown-ups

The 7-year old perusing the souvenir programme pre show.

The songs are catchy and the jokes are funny. Like all good family theatre, there’s even some asides and allusions aimed squarely at the parents. My 7-year-old couldn’t take his eyes off the stage and was completely absorbed in the story from beginning to end. He wanted to see how it differed from the book. He was very taken with the scene in which Joe’s Dad delivers homework to his son’s school by helicopter and of course all the poo and bum gags! As a parent I grow increasingly weary of the constant scatalogical humour, but you have to hand it to Walliams, he certainly knows his audience and children do seem to lap it up. My son’s eyes nearly popped (or should that be pooped?) out of his head when the actual real life David Walliams appeared on stage at the end of show to congratulate cast and crew on a job well done! 

Matthew Gordon (Joe), Emma Matthews (Mrs Trafe), Davy Bell (Bob). Photo by Mark Douet

Matthew Gordon (Joe), Emma Matthews (Mrs Trafe), Davy Bell (Bob). Photo by Mark Douet

Fans of the book will notice that the character of Lauren the prettiest girl in school has been replaced with Jaden – the coolest boy at school and the story is all the better for it. Walliams’ female characters are not always well-rounded representations of women. Take for example Sapphire – the caricature of a superficial footballer’s wife-style gold-digger – or Mrs Trafe – the duplicitous pantomime dame dinner lady who requests money from Joe for a hip replacement and then uses it for a boob job. The idea of Mr Spud having an Afro toupee for ‘special occasions’ made me feel a bit uncomfortable too. But minor niggles aside, the moral of the story is uplifting and heartwarming. Money can’t buy happiness but the Spud family do find love, friendship and happiness when they become penniless. 

Who would love Billionaire Boy?

If you’re thinking about taking the family to see a show over the festive season or beyond, Billionaire Boy is certainly worth considering. It kept us entertained from start to finish and was definitely worth keeping the boy up late on a school night. The show is suitable for ages 7 and up and especially fun for pre-teens. Younger children may struggle to keep up with the pace but there’s plenty for parents and grandparents to enjoy too. 

Roni attended the press night performance of David Walliams Billionaire Boy at The Richmond Theatre on 30th October 2019. All opinions are her own.

Here’s where to see Billionaire Boy on tour around the UK : 

  • Richmond Theatre – 30 October – 2 November 2019
  • Darlington Hippodrome – 6 – 10 November 2019
  • Orchard Theatre, Dartford – 13 – 16 November 2019
  • The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – 20 – 23 November 2019
  • New Theatre, Oxford – 4 – 7 December 2019
  • Bloomsbury Theatre – 14 December 2019 – 5 January 2020
  • King’s Theatre, Glasgow –  15 -19 January 2020
  • Cliff’s Pavilion, Southend –  23 – 26 Jan 2020
  • The Churchill Theatre, Bromley – 29 January – 2 February 2020
  • Olympia Theatre, Dublin – 5 – 9 February 2020
  • Hertford Theatre –  12 – 16 February 2020
  • Theatre Royal Windsor – 19 – 22 February 2020
  • Eden Court, Inverness – 26 – 29 February 2020
  • De Montfort Hall, Leicester – 4 – 8 March 2020
  • Winter Gardens Blackpool – 11 – 15 March 2020
  • New Theatre, Peterborough – 18 – 22 Mar 2020
  • His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen –  25 – 28 March 2020
  • The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford – 31 March – 4 April 2020
  • Theatre Royal Plymouth – 7 – 11 April 2020
  • Buxton Opera House – 14 – 18 April 2020
  • Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – 22 – 25 April 2020
  • Pavilion Theatre, Worthing – 30 April – 3 May 2020
  • Grand Opera House York – 6 May – 9 May 2020
  • Theatre Severn Shrewsbury – 14 – 17 May 2020
  • Liverpool Empire – 27 – 31 May 2020
  • Theatre Royal Nottingham – 10 – 14 Jun 2020
  • Opera House Manchester 8 – 11 July 2020
  • Theatre Royal, Norwich – 22 – 25 July 2020
  • Playhouse Theatre Edinburgh – 10 – 12 September 2020
  • Sands Centre, Carlisle – 14 – 18 October 2020
  • Bristol Hippodrome – 21 – 24 October 2020
  • Milton Keynes Theatre 4 – 7 November 2020

 

More festive activities with kids

5 activities to do with kids this winter

Easy-peasy Christmas activities to do with toddlers

Outdoor activities to do in winter

 

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About Ronita Dutta

Former BritMums Brilliance in Blogging judge and award-winning freelance journalist with over 20 years experience producing engaging content for clients including BBC Studios, The Independent and Penguin. She’s written on a diverse range of subjects from health and beauty to parenting, education, psychology and even the weather. Daughter of Bengali immigrants, Ronita was born and bred in London where she and her son can often be found building endless Lego creations.

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