The Boy Friend (Menier Chocolate Factory)

Sandy Wilson’s frothy flapper musical comedy makes a welcome return to the Menier for its end of year season, and it makes an enjoyable couple of hours.

The setting is a French finishing school at which Polly Browne and her friends (who have all “reached the age of seventeen, or thereabouts”) are planning for the annual ball.

Polly, an heiress to a fortune, doesn’t have a beau, but fate is about to intervene in the person of an obliging messenger boy from Gastons, and who knows what will happen “sur le plage”?

Tiffany Graves and company of The Boyfriend
Tiffany Graves and company of The Boyfriend

The plot is silly and full of those misunderstandings and daft coincidences which filled musicals of the time, but watching it all unfold is enjoyable, and there are some top-class performances from Amara Okereke as a winsome Polly, Adrian Edmondson and Issy van Randwyck as the battling Brocklehursts, Tiffany Graves as vibrant maid Hortense, Janie Dee as flirty Madame Dubonnet, Jack Butterworth as Yankee Bobby, Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson as a show-tapping Maisie, and Dylan Mason as an eager Tony.

With a strong score which lends itself to mini-encores at every turn, and cheesy smiles and affectionate doubling up by the end, The Boyfriend shows itself to be a treasure-trove of melodies from the haunting Fancy Forgetting to the ensemble powerhouse of Safety in Numbers. I guarantee you’ll head out with the music in your head.

Matthew White’s direction and Bill Deamer’s choreography guides the actors through the tricky minefield of slight overacting yet believable relationships required of the show, and Paul Farnsworth’s design has just the right amount of small finishing touches to bring the three acts to life.

Amara Okereke and Dylan Mason in The Boyfriend
Amara Okereke and Dylan Mason in The Boyfriend

The Boyfriend continues at the Menier Chocolate Factory into March, and then visits the USA.

Photo credits by Manuel Harlan.

LouReviews purchased a ticket to see The Boy Friend.

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