A slightly overplayed take on a Dutch boy's story of survival in the wild
This article is from 2013.
Suitably set in the quaint Bosco tent, Forest Boy is a new musical based on the events that gripped Europe in 2011 when Robin ‘Ray’ van Helsum, a young Dutch boy, claimed he had been living in a forest in Germany for five years. Dubbed as a story of transformation and imagination, the play explores ideas of love, loss and family.
Co-written by Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie, Forest Boy opens with a clumsy soliloquy about the meaning of reality, with the cast only settling into the production when the music begins. A small selection of stringed instruments and a keyboard accompany the singers and the songs are well-written and catchy, mostly providing warnings or advice about impending decisions. It does, however, feel at times as though the production needs a little more space with the exaggerated dance moves looking out of place on such a small stage.
Although the plot is sometimes a little hard to follow – when the female cast aren’t singing or dancing they stand with their arms at weird angles replicating, presumably, trees – the performance is interspersed with news-style readings that help bring the story together. Spoken in German and English simultaneously, these moments highlight the awe and hysteria that would have originally surrounded the story. A scene illustrating Ray’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend also has the audience in stitches, as she astutely plays out the ups-and-downs of romance (‘I love you … I’m fine … I HATE YOU’).
While the message that you have to make decisions when you’re growing up is slightly overplayed Forest Boy is mostly well-executed, creating an interesting and fresh take on events that captured the world.
Forest Boy, Assembly George Square, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24), 3.20pm, £10–£11 (£8–£9).