Tower Theatre in the heart of Stoke Newington is one of the larger Off West End Venues, established in 1932 as the Tavistock Repertory Company. The comfortable auditorium and friendly front-of-house staff make the long journey from central London worthwhile.
Set during the mid-1700s in the lifetime of classical musician Handel. We witness the cruel treatment of illegitimate children and their mothers and how some of the “unsavoury” corrupted upper classes used their position to abuse those they deemed beneath them, who were there at their disposal to increase their wealth.
Boasting a cast of twenty-six each member’s performance was superb. However, Paul Graves in the role of Meshak the deformed disabled son of Otis (Matt Tylianakis) the cruel corrupted child murderer was outstanding. Meshak never falters in searching for his angel and righting the wrongs taking place in front of him. There’s a strong sense of frustration emanating as his speech and social standing leave him unheard by many around him.
Movement director Nevana Stojkov creates smooth scene changes as the cast move between their scene and doubles up as stage hands. I was especially impressed with the dual-use panels which depicted a stone wall for outside scenery on one side and the luxury wallpapered interior for the stately home scenes.
Director Simona Hughes brings to the stage a darker and cruel part of our history. Maximising the stage capacity available at Stoke Newington to enable the large cast enough room to manoeuvre freely. From the eerily graveyard scenes complete with statues to the stately home ball dance floor. An incredible accomplishment all around.
Coram Boy isn’t a familiar text or production to me. However, it was extremely moving at times and evoked many emotions throughout the two hours and forty-five minutes. Highlighting the appalling behaviour that took place around “unwanted” children during the 1700s, although it’s certainly not reserved for our History books alone and people trafficking continues today.
Disturbingly Jamila Gavin’s novel The Coram Boy is based on a folklore tale where a man used to walk the streets of London offering to take unwanted babies to the hospital founded by Sir Thomas Coram.
This production of Coram Boy is set to move to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall for the week beginning August 28th 2022. For further information about this performance and the story around the text please use the links below.