Writer and performer Joe Sellman-Leava’s strong monologue shares a lot of characteristics with its titular protagonist – the show is full of enthusiasm and insight. Yet Fanboy’s biggest strength is how surprising it is.
Sellman-Leava has a lot to say and using the Star Wars films and The Muppet Christmas Carol makes the delivery of ideas novel. Spoilers are strictly prohibited – fanboys hate them – so let’s just say the show takes in a lot of contemporary events and big issues. And that Fanboy looks at the topic of childhood in a thought-provoking way.
It should be OK to comment on the theatricality of the show. Sellman-Leava gives a suitably endearing, intimate, performance. The direction from Yaz Al-Shaater is tight, at times a little rushed, while Al-Shaater’s video and sound design are impressive. The romance in the show might need more detail to have the desired impact. But the story of a mate who becomes toxic is exceptionally well handled – shared memories are cherished for too long as this school friend starts to become a fan of more sinister people.
It’s possible Sellman-Leava takes a little too much knowledge for granted from his audience. Even if never having seen Star Wars amazes you, a lot of knowledge of the whole franchise is needed to enjoy some of the jokes. But the sense of outrage and admiration common to fan communities is well known and well depicted. Sellman-Leava harnesses passion expertly to tell his engaging story.
While there’s a lot of fun in Fanboy, Sellman-Leava is aware it’s how people feel about these movies (and books and video games) that count. The place held in memories and the dangers of nostalgia create a powerful drama.
Until 12 March 2023