‘Money can’t buy you love,’ goes the old adage, and this is the moral of the story of Joe Spud and his Dad Len, who made his fortune selling Bumfresh toilet rolls and then lost it all again. It’s a rags to riches and back tale which celebrates friendship, family and fun, and the terrible misery that too much money can bring!
Gold digger alert!
Joe Spud has everything he could ever want – except a friend. He lives in the huge mansion of Bumfresh Towers, his Dad flies round in a helicopter and eats fancy food and he gets a cheque for a million pounds for his birthday! But he doesn’t have a friend. He goes to a very posh school (£200,000 a term) and his school mates are called Tarquin, Quentin, Percy, Bartholomew and Humphrey. They tease him mercilessly as his father’s fortune was made from the sale of double sided toilet paper and call him names like ‘bum boy’ and ‘Mr Plop paper.’ Joe doesn’t really fit in.
Joe persuades his Dad to let him go to an ordinary comprehensive and conceals his true identity as the son of a billionaire. He meets Bob, who is a little bit fat like himself and equally rubbish at cross country running. Between them they come last and second last in the school run, and from failure, a fast friendship is forged. Bob is not from a well off family, his father has died and he lives with his single mother who works hard to make ends meet.
Bob is not guilty!
Needless to say things do not go smoothly. Joe tries to pay off the Grub brothers who keep putting Bob in a wheelie bin, but Bob does not appreciate the help and wants to fight his own battles. Joe’s Dad pays the Headmaster to sack a teacher that is unkind to Joe but this ploy is also found out and really upsets Joe that his Dad has interfered.
Bad ass bullies – the Grub brothers
Gorgeous martial arts expert Lauren makes friends with Joe but it turns out she is also an actress who has been paid by his father to cosy up to him and be a friend to his lonely son. A recurring theme is that you have to earn the love and respect of others, and that the most important things in life are not for sale.
All action – lovely Lauren
The show is full of singing and dancing, and the unflagging energy of the cast carry things along apace. The children watching were completely captivated and keen to participate. There was enough visual and verbal humour for everyone from the smallest member of the audience – ‘What would you do with a million pounds?’ she was asked. ‘I would buy…. stuff!’ was the perfectly understandable reply – through to the adults who appreciated the comedy just as much.
It is a very strong experienced cast who engage with the young audience easily and don’t indulge in over acting which can sometimes be a bit cringe worthy in children’ shows -they get the tone just right.
A hard day at the sweet shop?
Oliver Hume is the hapless but likable Leonard Spud who has made a billion but doesn’t understand that his son just wants him to spend time with him. He is easy prey for the gold digging Sapphire and spends his money on very conspicuous consumption. His downfall is sealed when his fabulous Bumfresh creation starts turning bums purple and he is sued by millions of people.
Darryl Hughes is one of my favourite Heartbreak actors. I loved him as Smee in Peter Pan and Sebastian in Murder on the Terrace. He is just super funny all the time and an excellent actor – his emotional contemporary dance routine as he reunites with his chum Joe, had me in stitches.
Benjamin Darlington, takes the title role as Joe Spud the Billionaire Boy, and does an excellent line in childlike disappointment with the aid of some seriously expressive eyebrows.
Lonely Joe Spud
Faye Lord is a delight as the duplicitous Sapphire and the dashing Lauren and plays lots of other roles with cheerful ease.
Last but not least Jas Steven Sing is Raj from the corner shop – ‘Two fat boys in my shop at once – yes!’ as well as a few other characters. He is lots of fun too and also adept at the physical comedy, especially the dancing!
Raj – outraged sweet shop owner
I really enjoyed Billionaire Boy, and although it is billed as for 7 + years, there was plenty for adults to enjoy. The energy and joy which radiates from the Heartbreak team is always heart lifting and infectious and is as antidepressant a two hours as you are likely to get this summer!
Bob in the bin
Billionaire Boy by David Walliams was published in 2008 and this stage adaptation by David Kerby – Kendall, who has worked with Heartbreak productions for a number of years, is a world premiere. Find out where you can catch Billionaire Boy next on its tour of the UK and all the other fantastic Heartbreak Production shows this year at HeartbreakProductions.co.uk