The cast of The Boy At The Back Of The Class on stage at Malvern Theatres

The Boy At The Back Of The Class: Review

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The Boy at the Back of the Class is an award-winning and best-selling children’s book by Onjali Q. Raúf. The book has been adapted for theatre by Nick Ahad and the production is directed by Monique Touko. Children from many local schools went along to meet the author in Malvern recently. And with impeccable timing, the play is showing at the fabulous Malvern Theatres this week. I took my girls (age 9 & 11) along to see what they thought of it.

About The Boy At The Back Of The Class

Onjali Q. Raúf’s book and its theatre adaptation tell a story with an underlying message delivered in a way that children can understand. Most kids have an awareness that some people come to the UK after having to flee their homes due to horrible circumstances. However, a more difficult concept for them to understand is the fact that refugees are people just like them. This is perpetuated by the attitude of politicians and the media.

The Boy At The Back Of The Class is a simple story that reminds us of the person behind the refugee label. The first half is told from the point of view of Alexa, a year 5 pupil. She explains who she and her friends are and tells the story of a new boy called Ahmet joining their class. It’s not long before the class bully starts to pick on the new boy and he realises that it’s time to tell his story.

The second half of the production focuses on Ahmet’s backstory. He explains that he’s from Syria and how his sister and his cat died while the family were fleeing from the bombs being dropped on their home. His parents didn’t make it across to the UK with him.

Having heard Ahmet’s story, Alexa and her friends decide to do something about it. After a dramatic trip to Buckingham Palace, Ahmet’s story is shared around the world, paving the way to a happy ending.

The Boy At The Back Of The Class cast members Stan the taxi man, Alexa and Tom on stage pretending to be in a taxi

The Boy At The Back Of The Class: The Cast

  • Alexa: Sasha Desouza-Willock
  • Ahmet: Farshid Rokey
  • Mum / Mrs Khan: Priya Davdra
  • Mrs Sanders / Swing: Megan Grech
  • Michael / Stan the taxi man: Abdul-Malik Janneh
  • Josie / Journalist: Petra Joan-Athene
  • Brendan / Mr Brown / Mr Marbles / Queen’s Guard One: Joe McNamara
  • Off-Stage Swing: Ryan Rajan Mal
  • Tom / Frank: Gordon Millar
  • Mr Hart / Swing: Adam Seridji
  • Clarissa / Mrs Grimsby / Mr Irons / Mrs Marbles / Queen’s Guard Two: Zoe Zak
  • Voice of Queen Elizabeth II: Dame Vanessa Redgrave

Our Review

This is a production with a small cast of adults playing all the roles, including those of the kids. There’s a lot of educational value in it for children, particularly from a moral perspective. However, it doesn’t get bogged down in the seriousness of the topic. We loved the use of music to liven it up and keep everyone engaged and following the plot.

As well as delivering a serious message, the play was funny in places, getting both adults and kids in the audience laughing. The lighthearted delivery made a weighty underlying message much easier to digest.

The only criticism from both of my girls was that the adults playing children were a bit patronising. They both felt that the actors pitched themselves as being too young. Lia in particular was a bit offended by the way year 5 was portrayed, as it’s the school year she’s in at the moment. Whilst she did recognise certain characteristics and accepted that they were funny, she was a bit cross with other aspects. This is always likely to be a difficulty when casting adults in children’s roles when the production itself is aimed at children.

Main cast members from The Boy At The Back Of The Class on stage at Malvern Theatres

The Boy At The Back Of The Class: FAQs

When is The Boy At The Back Of The Class at Malvern Theatres?

The Boy At The Back Of The Class is at Malvern Theatres from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd March 2024. It then moves on to the Lowry in Salford and the rest of the tour dates are listed on a dedicated website for The Boy At The Back Of The Class tour.

How can I get tickets for The Boy At The Back Of The Class at Malvern Theatres?

Tickets are available from the Malvern Theatres website. Head to The Boy At The Back Of The Class website to find out about tickets for other venues.

What age is The Boy At The Back Of The Class suitable for?

The recommended age is 7 plus. This seems about right to me, it’s not scary but I’m not sure younger children would really understand the message that the production aims to deliver.

How long is The Boy At The Back Of The Class?

The performance lasts for two hours and five minutes including the interval.

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