The Boy Who Cried Woof – Camden People’s Theatre, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer and Director: Whatsitsface Theatre

It’s a shame when shows ask to be reviewed when they are not ready. And The Boy Who Cried Woof, despite its winning title, is not ready. The actor reads from a script in his hand and he is also under-rehearsed in manipulating the cumbersome set around the stage. But despite its failings, this play from anonymous theatre company Whatsitsface has real potential.

Every creative in the show is unnamed, enabling them to work safely on controversial projects without fear of rebuke, but this tale of sex and drug addiction is hardly the new subject matter that Whatsitsface claims it is in its press release. There have been many plays about chemsex, and The Boy Who Cries Woof fits neatly into that genre.

An unnamed actor plays Jeremy, an unlikeable 21-year-old, who’s working on his debut play, a study of Alexander the Great. Jeremy is horrible to everyone in his life; he demands money from his older lover, he patronises his writing partner, and takes for granted his best – and only – friend.

One of the reasons for his flakiness is his addiction to pornography and, then later on in the play, to the sex with the men he meets on the gay apps, on what is brilliantly called his ‘virtual street corner’, conjuring up older times when men met men for sex in physical spaces like parks and public toilets. Jeremy can’t stop. And along with the sex come drugs. It could make for a deadly combination.

Interspersed in the monologue are short dance/movement sections, but again these seem underprepared and the steps need to be more deliberately performed to stop them looking like they are being made up on the spot. But with time and practice, these parts will certainly be effective in reflecting Jeremy’s downward spiral.

Indeed, it is in the second half of the show where the actor appears most comfortable, even nailing some comedy moments despite the script in his hand. And to be honest, Jeremy’s battle with addiction is much more interesting than the slightly self-indulgent story of trying to put on a play in a venue that ‘is more footfall than theatre’. Hopefully, in the rewrites Whatsitsface can shift the story’s focus to bring the audience more quickly into the play.

In asking reviewers to cover their show when it’s not ready Whatsitsface have certainly cried wolf, if not woof. But invite us back when it’s finished!

Runs until 30 September 21

The Reviews Hub Score

Not review ready

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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