A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

A Day Well Spent at The Boy in the Dress, The RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company; by far one of the best theatres that the Midlands has to offer. So when they recently invited me along to check out behind the scenes of The Boy in the Dress, on stage until 8th March, as well as enjoy the show, I could hardly resist!

The Boy in the Dress, written by a true nation sweetheart, David Walliams, follows the story of Dennis. He is a 12 year old boy, and his school football team’s top striker. But, things aren’t too easy at home. His Mum leaves his Dad, leaving Dennis with just a photo of her in a yellow dress. So when he pops into his local newsagents and comes across a copy of Vogue magazine, where the model is wearing a similar dress to his mum’s, he is instantly drawn to it. But he can’t understand why he likes football…and fashion. Will he ever be allowed to be the boy in the dress?

Upon arrival to the theatre, we met with Company Manager Robbie Cullen, who gave us an incredibly thorough tour of the set and staging of The Boy in the Dress. Having the opportunity to go backstage is always one that I absolutely love. As wonderful as it is to see the finished product, heading behind the scenes to see what really goes into a production is fascinating.

One of the key parts of the show is the houses that make the backing of many of the scenes, so seeing them spotted around ready to go on stage was wonderful, as well as the car that glides onto the stage effortlessly, the disco balls that bring together one of the best musical numbers in the show, and the goal posts that pop up magically out of the floor throughout the show.

We also got to chance to marvel at the outfits, and the props, with our favourite being the snot, of course, that contributes to one of the funniest moments in the show. But the absolute highlight though was being able to meet the wonderful OddBall, who we instantly fell in love with.

Ben Thompson, the operator of the dog, was fascinating to watch, but it is also as fascinating to notice how quickly you no longer notice Ben, and just see OddBall for the fabulous character he is! Heading backstage was the ultimate treat for me, and it allows you to watch the show in a totally different way because you’ve seen and heard about the amount of hard work that goes into the production. 

Following the tour, we headed upstairs to enjoy a beautiful Sunday dinner at the theatre’s restaurant that overlooks Stratford-upon-Avon. I went for the Pork, which was absolutely delicious! In fact, it was the best meal I’ve had in a super long time. My guest went for the Seabass, and they also absolutely loved it. It’s very rare that I get the chance to enjoy a meal AND a show, so it made the day so special. 

We soon headed to the show, which we were so excited for by this point! We’d heard a rumour whizzing around that the man himself, David Walliams, was in the building. So we couldn’t quite believe it when we got to meet David, as he sat himself right behind us! Just another part of the day that made the day unforgettable.

The show was everything we wanted it to be. The plot is a beautiful story, of acceptance and total joy; a story that I wish had been around when I was younger. Jackson Laing took on the role of Dennis, and was just incredible, he was simply made for the role. Other highlights included the role of Dennis’s Dad, played by Rufus Hound, whose take on the role was fantastic. The audience went from hating him and his treatment of Dennis and his brother John, to absolutely loving him when he accepted Dennis for who he is.

Other highlights of the cast included Lisa James, played by Asha Banks, who was absolutely fantastic and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her pop up in even bigger roles in the future. However, the show was really brought together with the help of a hugely talented ensemble. 

One of my favourite aspects of the show was the musical numbers, that really helped bring the show to life. The songs for the production were written by no other than Robbie Williams himself, and Guy Chambers, and they were all absolutely brilliant, super catchy and songs that I could easily go back and listen to time and time again. Personal musical highlights included the infectious ‘Disco Symphony’, the downright hilarious ‘I Hate Kids’ and the stunning ‘Is there Anything More Beautiful Than Lisa James?’. 

The set, many of which we got to take a closer look at backstage, looked fantastic working on stage. Sets moved smoothly between scenes, taking the audience from the football pitch, effortlessly to Dennis’s bedroom, Lisa’s house, the newsagents and the school classrooms, all without much hassle at all. 

I absolutely adored my day experiencing all things The Boy in the Dress. The show was, of course, absolutely brilliant, and so, so enjoyable, that I can’t wait to head along again soon to watch it all over again. If you’re looking for a show that will put a huge smile on your face and lift your spirits during these cold and miserable months, you absolutely need to head along to watch this incredible production. 

The Boy in the Dress is on stage at The RSC until 8th March 2020. Get tickets here

*I was fortunate enough to be gifted the backstage experience, restaurant meal and show. However, I haven’t accepted payment to write this post and was under no obligation to give a raving review. I paid for all travel to and from the theatre. 


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