DramaReviewSouth West

Up Down Man – Tobacco Factory, Bristol

Writer: Brendan Murray

Music: Kieran Buckeridge

Artistic Director: Heather Williams

Choreographer: Bryn Thomas

Reviewer: Julia Beasley

Like one in every 1,000 people, Matty Butler has Down’s Syndrome. He may look cute but he’s not a child, at 29 he’ll tell you himself that he’s a “big man”.  As his sister explains, he’s 30 in all respects, he’s just not your average 30-year-old.

The play explores the particular challenges of growing up for a young adult with a learning disability. The recent death of his mother has catapulted Matty and his family into crisis. Matty has been sheltered in a loving family – but maybe the time is right for him to discover the outside world of going out, having a boyfriend, his own phone and a measure of independence. Will he make it, with support, in the world outside the comfort of his room? 

Star of the show Nathan Bessell weaves the actions together with his idiosyncratic dancing, often at a dreamy, introspective pace. He also binds the family together and helps them navigate through their bereavement.  “Family friends together” is his loving refrain.

There’s gentle humour, not least when the fearful father, played by Joe Hall, finally realises that Matty is gay. And a special mention goes to suave narrator Mr Fox, played stylishly by Arran Glass as the hero’s favourite toy, imaginary friend and alter ego.

The most poignant discourse belongs to Matty’s late mother, played by Susan Williams. Her mumsy ghost cheerfully nags but is also filled with self-doubt. Did she do the right thing in protecting her Peter Pan?  She wanted her boy to never grow up and leave her – but was she wrong not to teach Matty how to cope without her? In keeping him safe was she really being selfish?

This is a charming and worthy piece of inclusive drama from the Myrtle Theatre Company.  Without challenges or trauma, it is a homely exploration of growing up for a child like Matty, whom the audience just can’t help adoring.

Runs until 18 November 2017 | Image: Richard Davenport

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Inclusive theatre

Show More

The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

Related Articles

Back to top button