By Jeremy Miles
Humble Boy: Lighthouse, Poole
When it first appeared nearly a decade ago Charlotte Jones' play caused even jaded critics to sit up and take notice.
The killer combination of slickly intelligent writing and a riveting tale of unrequited love in the wake of death in a dysfunctional family soon found Humble Boy laden with awards.
London Classic Theatre Company’s revival reminds us what the fuss was about, delivering Jones’ sharply observed comedy with wit and style.
Beautifully set in a surburban garden somewhere in middle England, it finds John Dorney in excellent form as Felix Humble , a chaotic thirtysomething academic, returning home following the sudden death of his bee-keeping, biology teacher father.
The Humble household is in psychological meltdown as Felix’s needy, spiteful and deeply dissatisfied mother Flora ( a fine performance from Pauline Whitaker) instigates a full-on affair with uncouth local businessman George Pye (Peter Cadden).
It’s a sticky situation, particularly with the constant attention of clinging neighbour Mercy (Jeryl Burgess) and the sudden discovery by Felix that he is the father of a seven-year-old girl.
The plot weaves its way through everything from theoretical astrophysics to advanced bee-keeping but remains essentially about people and their problems. This is compelling theatre with a wonderful and highly appropriate sting in the tail.
*Humble Boy plays Lighthouse in Poole until Thursday (April 23).