Billy, the Monster and Me (Re:Play - Salford)
''Billy, The Monster and Me'' is imaginative children's theatre at its best, says Kristy Stott
Billy's family haven't bothered with him all day. His mum has been too busy chattering on the phone while doing the household chores; his dad has been occupied with DIY and his teenage sister Olivia, well, she is just too busy being moody and singing to her reflection in the mirror. Billy enjoys spending time with his grandpa who lives in the room upstairs. His grandpa was a legendary monster slayer but now, we understand is "about two hundred million years old" and spends most of the day asleep. So, when a monster decides to descend upon the family, the responsibility falls upon Billy to rid the household of the furry blue beast.
Nathan Morris takes the title role of imaginative Billy - he gives an animated performance, bursting with energy, and keeps the children in the audience gripped for the whole fifty minutes. Directed by Alyx Tole, the physical theatre clowning between Billy and his sister, Olivia, played by Christabel Brown, is a real delight and well choreographed. Both of my sons enjoyed the section when Billy and Olivia staged a tussle - the sequence was hilarious and reached out to parents and children alike - the slapstick humour appealed to the younger members of the audience while the grown-ups could appreciate the warm nostalgia associated with childhood and the fun times spent scrapping with siblings.
It is evident that the show has been written and produced by two mothers, Catherine Manford and Sarah Molyneux, you can tell that they have thought through the whole theatre experience from a child's perspective. Creative play activities are laid out for young theatre goers to partake in before and after the show and there is a small warm-up activity for the whole audience before the show starts; crash mats are laid out at the front of the audience seating to encourage interaction during the show and stickers are given out to enroll children to help "Team Billy" save his family from the scary monster.
For me, the show tugged at my emotions as a parent and how we are all guilty of spending too much time on our tablets/ mobile phones or non urgent household chores. Billy, The Monster and Me has been made with a lot of passion, imagination and creativity and demonstrates that whether we are young or old we should never be too busy to play. Like Billy, all we need is a little time, a little bravery and the greatest gift - our imagination. But don't take my word for it - join "Team Billy".
- Kristy Stott