The Boy in the Dress David Walliams/Mark Ravenhill, RSC till 08 March 2020. 5****: Rod Dungate

Stratford Upon Avon

The Boy in the Dress: Adapt Mark Ravenhill from the novel by David Walliams. Music and Lyrics  by Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers & Chris Heath.


RSC Main House

Runs: 2h 30m, one interval, until 8 March 2020

Box Office: 01789331111




Review: Rod Dungate, 7th Dec 2019

This is a brilliantly entertaining and resonant production of an important children’s book.

The Boy in the Dress tells the story of 12 year-old star striker, Dennis, who becomes interested in fashion and through that, discovers liberation in wearing a dress. Dennis’s peers have difficulty in coming to terms with this turn of events.

It may be that current thinking is catching up with David Walliams’s ground-breaking thinking; this in no way blunts the debates within the story, nor weakens the power of this adaptation and its ability to promote discussion among its young audience – and even older audiences! For this is a play about freedom, collective action, and the right indeed the need to be true to oneself.

For the last two years the RSC has produced David Edgar’s expansive adaptation of A Christmas Carol. This year, the production is scaled back. A clever choice – it does not sit in competition with Carol; moreover, it results in a children’s drama with songs within a scale the children can relate to.

And all this within a totally joyous and theatrical event.

Extremely strong performances throughout. Difficult to speak of the young actors for Dennis (the protagonist) and Darvesh (Dennis’s best friend) as there are four possible players for each. If they are all as good as each other, then judging by the pair I saw, you are in for a treat. There is a genuineness in the playing that completely draws you in. Dennis’s fashion role-model, Lisa James (shared between 3 young actors), shares the same genuine and unfussy quality. Forbes Masson as the horrible headmaster, is suitable comic-style mean. Natasha Lewis as Darvesh’s endearing and dotty mother, is a delight throughout – and she has a killer line, but I’m not giving that one away!

Rufus Hound (Dennis’s father) is sparingly used. His astounding ability to reach our hearts enables this character’s emotional journey to move us at turning points of the story – and deeply in a way that takes us by surprise.

Robert Jones’s scenography captures a children’s view of the world, and has a few magic tricks to delight.

Gregory Doran, master of classical textual analysis, appears to delight in the theatrical freedom Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation offers, without compromising for a second, his political view of the world.

Ben Jonson likened a great production to a great banquet that you enjoy long after the banquet is ended. Enjoy this Yuletide repast.




Dennis: Oliver Crouch, Jackson Laing, Tom Lomas, Toby Mocrei

Dad: Rufus Hound

Mum: Charlotte Wakefield

John: Alfie Jukes/Zachary Loonie

Darvesh: Ethan Dattani, Shivain Kara-Patel, Kassian Shae Ahktar,  Arjun Singh Khakh

Darvesh’s Mum: Natasha Lewis

Oddbod: Ben Thompson

Miss Bresslaw: Christina Modestou

Gareth: Alexander Moneypenny

Big Mac: Max Gill

Rory: Ryan Heenan

St Kenneth’s Captain: Jamie Tyler

Raj: Irvine Iqbal

Mr Hawtrey: Forbes Masson

Miss Windsor: Charlotte Wakefield

Lisa James: Asha Banks, Tabitha Knowles, Miriam Nyarko

Louise: Gracy Wylde

Lorna: Charlotte Jaconelli

Maudlin Street Captain: David Birch


Director: Gregory Doran

Designer: Robert Jones

Choreographer: Aletta Collins

Lighting Designer: Mark Handerson

Musical Supervisor and Arrangements: Bruce O’Neil

Musical Director and Arrangements: Alan Williams

Orchestrators: Tome Deering, Guy Chambers

Sound Designers: Paul Groothuis, Tome Marshall

Puppetry Director: Laura Cubitt

Dramaturg: Pippa Hill

Associate Director: Sarah Tipple

Associate Choreogrpaher: Carl Harrison

Associate Musical Director: Laura Bangay

Associate Desginer: Paul Atkinson

Casting Director: Hannah Miller

Children’s Casting Director: Hannah Miller, Barbara Roberts

Company voice and text work: Cathleen McCarron

Oddbod Designer & Maker: Samuel Wyer

Assistant Desginer: Anna Kelsey


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