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Belt Up's The Boy James
Published on Monday, 22 August 2011

3 stars

C venues - C soco (venue website)
3-29 Aug, 10:50pm-11:50pm
Reviewed by Carmel Doohan

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

The room is cosy, full of sofas, cushions and interesting objects. 'The boy' greets us as we enter, inviting us to join him in a game of stuck-in-the-mud. His performance is captivating and intense, and immediately he has his 'visitors' engrossed.

He tells us of his adventures with frantic, delusional chatter, and we hear about James, his friend and fellow explorer. A growing sense of unease builds beneath the childish excitement – and when James comes to say he is leaving, it throws the boy’s world into disarray.

James is leaving to live in the world of adults; but even when we are read his goodbye letter at the very end, it is still unclear why this is such a tragedy. The idea that we loose ourselves as we grow up is implied, but never really investigated.

A girl arrives and they have a disturbing sexual encounter; if he is Peter Pan, then Wendy she is not. This is shocking and powerful, but again the ideas are not developed. Eventually the vague theme of lost innocence becomes repetitive, and moments of great pathos are undermined by lack of back story or plot.

For piece able to demand such emotional involvement from the very first moment, it ultimately fails to do enough with it. Too much time spent watching a strange boy crying leaves me feeling that my empathy had been assumed rather than earned.

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