To the first night of New Boy at the Trafalgar Studios last night, starring Nicholas Hoult off of Skins and About a Boy. It’s co-produced by my boss and features one of the girls I created, so I’m rather compelled to have liked it.
But blimey, that wasn’t hard. From the moment it starts – with the knotty problem of whether the labia are inside or outside the vagina – it’s a rude, funny and painfully well-observed tale of teenage sex and inner terror. Hoult plays Mark, with the lion’s share of the lines as he pours out the crises of his friendship with the new boy at school, Barry (Gregg Lowe).
They’re both still virgins when they meet, but Barry’s so pretty Mark thinks it will be a cinch to get him laid. Barry is soon working his way through the local girls’ school and has designs on his French teacher. Mark, meanwhile, has earned the interest of Barry’s sister – who knows it’s Barry he’s really in love with.
It’s a relatively short, fast-moving play, with plenty crammed in about confused and angry teenage feelings, and the clumsy stumbling into being an adult. In some ways it feels like a series of sketches strung together by Mark addressing the audience – and never quite getting why things never quite go as he’d want.
Half-way through the play gets a new lease of life when Mel Giedroyc (yes, of Mel and Sue) walks on. It’s a small, intimate theatre and you realise quite how much you’ve been drawn in as a voyeur to Mark’s story when she addresses you directly. She got her own applause for her first extraordinary scene, as did my mate Ciara Janson for her stint as a receptionist.
Ciara and Phil Matthews play an impressive range of different roles – some gags depend on us knowing which of several people they’re being. Top marks to Russell Labey for directing and writing (adapted from a novel by William Sutcliffe). And hello to Frankie who I met in the pub later, who commanded the noise and the lighting.
New Boy is on until 11 April and if you miss it you are a silly person.