The Lost Boy review at St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester – ‘beautifully crafted’
A frightened Syrian boy fetches up in a seaside town that has seen better days, and encounters a hostility born as much of circumstance as prejudice. Though The Lost Boy, a new play by Stephanie Dale, writer of the 2013 Chester Mysteries, was in development before Brexit happened, it couldn’t be more pertinent.
Frank (Jonathan Markwood), an ex-trawlerman, is about to lose his “poxy” job in a chip shop to a foreigner who’ll do it cheaper. In a rabble-rousing speech to protestors, his cry is: “Our town. With our people”.
Meanwhile, his wife, Claire (Victoria Brazier), is trying to boost people’s spirits with a community choir that will perform at Christmas. Their teenage daughter, Maddie (Jill McAusland), befriends Karem, the boy of the title, and finds her attitudes changing.
The play encompasses video testimony from real asylum seekers, in collaboration with the charity, City of Sanctuary. The results could have been preachy but they’re not. A Peter Pan motif runs through the story and Karem is able to summon up the faces using his haunting powers as a Syrian singer, which makes it very accessible to a younger audience.
As Karem, Andrei Costin, fresh from a starring role in The Kite Runner, gets right under the character’s skin.
Theatre in the Quarter specialise in putting work into exciting places and the chancel of the intimate St Mary’s space perfectly accommodates Dawn Allsopp’s seaside jetty set. It looks as if it has washed by centuries of tides