Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones

National Theatre UK national tour, 2003

Prologue

I am only the second person in the world to direct Humble Boy, having served as associate director to John Caird on the American premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in the spring of 2003.  John is an extraordinarily generous mentor; he encouraged me to explore the differences between our interpretations and to direct my own production, rather than recreating his by rote.  I chose to foreground the ‘walking past the love of one’s life’ imagery more emphatically that did John, as well as the opportunities to turn around and rediscover that love, be it in the form of theoretical astrophysics or in the starry eyes of a seven-year-old.

This brilliant, rich play is in a delightful conversation with Hamlet, and uses string theory as a metaphor to explore the emotional journey of an adult son struggling to come to terms with the death of his father.

Originally, Humble Boy was designed by Tim Hatley, lit by Paul Pyant and with sound design by Chris Shutt. On this production, I collaborated principally with the extraordinarily gifted Associate Designer Libby Watson and the equally sensational Associate Lighting Designer David Howe.

Reviews

The Guardian:
“A genuinely touching family comedy that is lovingly directed and supremely designed.”

The Daily Telegraph:
“A spellbinding production of a wonderfully humane and original play.”

TheatreWorld.com:
“A moving and exceedingly funny play, expertly directed and faultlessly acted. A delight! Don’t miss it!”

BBC Somerset:
“The production certainly is deep and meaningful, funny and witty from start to finish – in fact, the perfect recipe for Humble Boy.”

www.theatre-wales.co.uk:
“A luxurious theatre experience . . .[with] acting of the very highest quality.”

Woking Review:
“It was poignant, haunting and strangely wise and will stay in my memory for a long time.”

The Bath Alternative:
“There are moments of supreme pathos, black comedy, biting wit and even slapstick. It is one of the highlights of the season.”

The Bath Chronicle:
“The play itself is pure magic . . . it’s often very funny, waspish about the bees and full of mystical ideas. In a theatre season packed with good things, my guess is that this beautiful and extraordinary play will be marked down as the very best.”

Farnham Herald:
“Amid the science, the gloom and the bee lore, lurk some very funny moments, an unexpected twist and a stunningly beautiful final scene.”

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Ability is of little account without opportunity.
– Lucille Ball

You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation…
--The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i