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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Mill at Sonning - Boys Will Be Boys

24th June to 2nd August 2003.

From The Times.

One star
What trivial feature does this thin comedy by Simon Williams share with The Caretaker and Macbeth? Answer: the author acted in his own play. Shakespeare’s performance as Third Murderer may be legendary but there is no doubting that Williams plays the character of Lenny in Boys Will Be Boys. He directs as well, and has evidently rewritten the second half since the press release was released.

Lenny writes romantic novels using the pseudonym of Myrtle Banbury, and though he himself is sexually timid and ignorant of the first thing about women (along with most of the other things), these novels are loved by women around the world, including his ex-wife Fran and the TV journalist Letitia Butters, who wants to interview the understandably elusive Myrtle.

No problem. Lenny pretends Myrtle is his aunt, currently sailing up the Amazon. His teenage daughter — played by Williams’s own daughter, Amy — will set up a surveillance camera to link two rooms in their Twickenham home, record Lenny using a Myrtle voice to answer a list of prepared questions, and insert them into the interview against a background of rainforest twitter.

Of course everything in this ludicrous plan must go wrong because the play belongs to that deadliest of theatrical forms, the light comedy, style and structure circa 1960.

The play is a sequel to one called Nobody’s Perfect, in which, remembering Some Like It Hot, Lenny probably dressed up as Auntie Myrtle. He does so again here, on the flimsiest of excuses, donning a steel-grey wig and roguish specs that make him resemble Dr Evadne Hinge on speed. It is a neat idea to have Myrtle obliged to answer questions from his unsuspecting ex on emotional subjects that would paralyse Lenny if he were being himself.

And it is an amusing moment when, left alone, he extracts one of the burger baps from his bra and mournfully bites into it. But we are soon returned to gags, unmotivated changes of heart and general silliness.

Sheila Ballantine plays the journalist and it is good to see her, even in such tosh, in which she wears a dashing turban and fakes messages at a séance in order to seduce Lenny’s dad. The irrelevance of this sub-plot to Lenny’s quaint ease as a woman and inhibitions as a man only emphasises the economy of thought evident in the composition of this time-waster.