Mad about the Boy begins in a simple but effective way with the play’s three un-named characters offering up separate monologues which slowly inter-connect to focus on the teenage boy of the title. The boy is flanked by his exasperated father and the well-meaning school counsellor as they try to understand his wayward behaviour and argue about the best way of re-directing his energy.
The ‘boy’ is eager to be seen as a man and his behaviour seems to be his way of asserting his adulthood – no matter how misdirected. These difficult steps from child to grown-up offer up various paths to go down and unfortunately for the play’s protagonist his route is affected not only by his circumstances but also by the bad choices he makes. As they discuss how they are going to deal with things the father’s traditional views on discipline contradict the more liberal views held by the counsellor and the two men find very little common ground on how to deal with the circumstances caused by the boy’s actions.
Director Ria Parry’s staging is deliberately sparse with the actors never engaging directly with one another, which seems to highlight the lack of real connection between the three and seems to suggest these social divides in race, age and class are fairly insurmountable. Gbolahan Obisesan’s vibrant script and the three energetic performances make proceedings very watchable but the overall narrative arc feels fairly well-worn and close to cliché at times. It is possible that the plot is deliberately drawn quite broadly to appeal to a younger audience but I feel that it undermines some of the believability of the piece.
On the whole though I was totally absorbed through-out by the flow of the language which is at times like verbal tennis as the sharp dialogue bounces from one character to the next. A brief (50 minutes) but powerful piece of theatre - which despite some flaws –packs a powerful emotional punch.