The Birthday Boy

Went to The Birthday Boy at on Tuesday evening.

I wasn’t sure whether I would like it. It was billed as “What happens to long-term friends when life takes them in completely different directions?” which didn’t seem like a source of great comedy. And one of the five cast was Geraldine Brophy whom I have an irrational antipathy towards because of the character she used to play on Shortland Street. Yes I know there is a difference between an actor and their part, but hey I did say the antipathy was irrational!

As it turned out, I greatly enjoyed the play. There was plenty of humour, and a nice twist to the story at the end.

The two couples are Stuart & Elizabeth and David and Kathy. They are best mates until David and Kathy have children – an emo type brooding artist and then twins who are nicknamed the two horseman of the apocalypse due to their antics such as pouring oil into a swimming pool and setting it on fire so they can ride their bikes down the slide into it.

Kathy writes children’s tales about a dog. Her career blossoms and she is rarely home, leaving David to care for the kids. He grows increasingly resentful of the dog character and this plays itself out hilariously later in the play. He copes badly at being a near solo Dad with three difficult kids, and envies Stuart who is care free and much the same guy at 50 as he was at 21.

By contrast Stuart and Elizabeth are loving life and doing well. Stuart is the wise cracking joker who provides much of the great humour in the play. His foil is Stuart’s mother who takes everything he says literally, and she also provides many smiles.

Stuart loves being a slightly irresponsible god parent to the kids as he fills them up with energy, and then the parents have to cope with them.

You would think there is not a lot of humour at seeing two friends drift apart, and a marriage fall apart – but in fact the smiles came often.

The play is two and a half hours long, and while normally I find that challenging, it worked well with this production as there was a natural progression of birthdays to get through from age 40 to 65.

The final scene has some surprises in it, and provides some nice food for thought.

Overall it was a very well produced and enjoyable play that kept you in laughter but also made you think about the pros and cons of having children. An ideal play for couples to go and see, but not exclusively. In the audience on Tuesday there were a lot of young women there also, and they seemed to like it as much as anyone else.

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