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REVIEW: The Boy at the Back of the Class at Cambridge Arts Theatre

The show is upbeat with music throughout

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The novel, The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf has raised money to help refugees as well as raising awareness of what it is to be a refugee. (No one grows up expecting that to happen to them or chooses it.)

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The play, adapted by Nick Ahad and directed by Monique Touko, is designed to take that message even further.

The show’s opening is deeply moving with a giant blue cloth moved to simulate the remorseless waves of the sea.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The story of how a group of children in a British school respond to a Syrian boy who only speaks Kurdish is told through the children’s reactions.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

Sasha Desouza-Wilcock as the main story-teller Alexa is impressive in an accomplished performance.

Sadly, a lot of children’s plays are like children’s comics. The characters are cliches and stereotypes.

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The goodies are very good, and the baddies are very bad. We offer children a kind of shorthand. This one is no different.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The cast of 10 play multiple parts (Zoe Zak plays five characters) and throw in some interesting gymnastics taking advantage of a set like a school gym.

The show is upbeat with music throughout (though not tunes that primary school children would necessarily know) but the audience mostly of those children were engaged throughout and cheered at the end.

Farshid Rokey is convincing in a touching performance as Ahmet the nine-year-old who has been put on a boat with his sister after his parents escaped the war in Syria.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

Priya Davdra gives well observed performances as the class teacher Mrs Khan and Alexa’s mum. Joe McNamara plays four roles, his main one as Brendan the bully who redeems himself at the end.

There are moments of humour which didn’t always land but it’s a fast-paced and memorable night at the theatre.

The Boy at the Back of the Class is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16 then touring.

 

 

 

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