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WiLd! review at Carriageworks, Leeds – ‘energetic and sympathetic’

Rhys Warrington in WiLd at Carriageworks, Leeds. Photo: Brian Slater Rhys Warrington in WiLd at Carriageworks, Leeds. Photo: Brian Slater

Billy keeps bees. It’s not a typical hobby for a 10-year-old boy, but Billy isn’t your typical 10-year-old boy. Billy has ADHD, four little letters that serve to label him just as succinctly as the labels that he sticks on the jars containing his beloved bees.

Leeds based children’s theatre company Tutti Frutti’s latest show is Evan Placey’s WiLd!, a monologue which takes us inside the mind of Billy. It’s vividly brought to life by Rhys Warrington in a very physical performance. He’s absolutely bursting with energy; sometimes it looks like he’s being dragged around the stage by an invisible rope. He bounces on a trampoline, he clambers up a climbing frame, all while sliding effortlessly between Billy’s character and those of his estranged parents, his teachers and his friends. It’s exhausting to watch, but in the best possible way.

Placey’s play is full of memorable moments; he can conjure up a place or a character with just a few well-chosen words: the doctor’s office which “smells of baby wee” or the supercilious mother who ends a conversation with the excuse that “there’s a chicken cooking in the slow cooker”. Above all, Placey never reduces Billy to a caricature or an object of pity: he’s just a regular kid albeit one with a few more issues than the average 10-year-old. It’s more of a character study than a fully-fledged play but he’s a fascinating character to spend time with.

A word too for Molly Lopresti’s percussion-heavy live score, which
perfectly compliments Warrington’s performance – constantly buzzing in
the background, moving as quickly as both the bees in Billy’s hive and
the thoughts in his head.

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Music and movement combine in an energetic and sympathetic character study of a boy with ADHD