REVIEW: A Boy Wonder (The Basement)

Ryan Richards gives a wonderous performance.

Hilariously homegrown [by Sharu Delilkan]

Ryan Richards gives a wonderous performance.
Ryan Richards gives a ‘wonder-ous’ performance.

In a world where planes go missing, the Crimea is important and Miley Cyrus’ tour bus catches fire it’s imperative to occasionally escape to some irreverence, in order to balance out the heavy politics.

Put simply, A Boy Wonder is probably the most endearing Kiwiana plays I’ve seen for a long time.

Being in the outdoors, using the growing pains of a scout who attempts to become a venture scout is a great device that works a treat.

The semi-autobiographical story written by Ryan Richards who has a dissociative persona, given the plethora of characters that he morphs in and out of throughout the show, is a stroke of genius. The switching of characters was done in true Richards’ style, breathlessly running from one side of the stage to another with no compromise or practicality at all.

After a blistering first five minutes I was sitting bewildered and a little worried whether he would be able to sustain the plotline and pace. In truth my nerves were jangling because like the rest of the audience I wanted this premise to succeed, given the likeability of all the main characters portrayed. Fortunately, soon after the piece accelerated into a farcical, prop-abused, mayhem of storytelling that reaffirmed my belief in humanity, Kiwi pie shops and forgiveness.

What makes the show charming and exciting is A Boy Wonder’s ability to charter both familiar and unfamiliar territory, which provided us with a great night’s entertainment. I particularly love the short and sweet yet high-energy performance the Richards delivers which is pacey but at times a rather exhausting ride for the audience – which can only be described as quirky and original.

In a nutshell A Boy Wonder is the fantastical, heart-warming and rambunctious comedy adventure about a friendship between two scouts and their heroic journey to save everything they have sworn to protect, giving the Scouts’ Honour new meaning…

Originally from Dunedin, Richards speaks from the heart on real New Zealanders, their trials and tribulations… He’s not only familiar with being a scout but also with the Central Otago terrain, which he scales throughout the show.

In addition to his amazing comic timing and ability to move seamlessly from one character to another, Richards’ ability to work with the numerous props dotted strategically around the stage is a sight to behold. In addition, he’s astutely complemented by Michael Craven’s precision timing as technical designer and operator. Due credit also goes to director Nic Sampson for honing Richards‘ comic timing, making for a very successful solo debut.

What really made me really happy, as someone who’s a failed brownie and who’s never been a scout, is the fact that A Boy Wonder has everything and absolutely nothing to do with scouting.

A Boy Wonder is downright silly and bizarre – but if you enjoy ongoing escapism resulting in fits of laughter, this heart-warming Kiwi story will definitely appeal.

Supported by the James Wallace Arts Trust A Boy Wonder plays at The Basement until 22 March. Details see The Basement

SEE ALSO: review by Adey Ramsel

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