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My two children (aged 4 & 6) and I were recently invited to review Boxed in at Z-arts, this show is a Daryl & Co and Halfmoon Theatre Co-production which looks at unspoken rules in our society and how you can be made to feel naughty just because the rules don't make sense to you. The show focuses on how unspoken barriers of attitudes, social etiquette and behaviours can sometimes prevent people from joining in especially those who may have an invisible disability such as Autism or ADHD and how it can be hard for people to understand why people with these types of disability's need to do things in a certain way.

Boxed in Production photos

The show is mostly non-verbal which makes it accessible to a wide range of people, it is very inclusive & all shows are relaxed so you are free to move around the auditorium make noise and leave the auditorium if you need to. On the way into the auditorium everyone was offered ear defenders which I thought was fantastic. A day or two before the show we were sent a visual guide for the show and an Audio intro as well as a visual guide for Z-arts, I loved this as my children and I are Autistic and can get very anxious about new environments so being able to show them these visual guides was fantastic. My children get quite anxious about going to shows that they don't already know the story of so having the visual guide for the show was really helpful, as they knew what to expect when they got there. Unfortunately, when we got to the venue my son's anxiety got the better of him and he couldn't face going in, so my dad took him home but my daughter was really excited to see the show.

Boxed in Production photo

Boxed in tells the story of Derek and Joe, two people who are separated by a wall of cardboard boxes, Joe's side is very neat and tidy whilst Derek's side is a little messier. When Joe & Derek are on their lunch break, they both put away their jackets and eat their Banana's but the way they each do this is very different, Derek scrunches up his jacket and throws it into a box whereas Joe folds his up neatly and places it carefully into a box. Joe takes his banana out of a banana shaped box and peels it carefully whereas Derek takes out a slightly squashed banana peels it quickly and throws the peel on the floor. When Derek and Joe discover one another on the other side of the wall, they decide to move the boxes so that they can be together, however this does not go well at first as they like to do things differently, Derek is messy, disorderly and likes his music loud. Joe is very particular he likes things to be done a set way and for things to be organised and in a set place, he also likes things quieter. In order for Derek and Joe to share the space they have to learn to compromise and understand each other's needs.

I have to say Derek and Joe reminded me so much of my two children, my daughter is very loud noisy, messy and is always moving and jumping around, my son is the opposite he likes quiet and likes things to be tidy and in a set place, this often results in the two of them clashing as they find it difficult to compromise and understand one another's needs.

Boxed in Production photo

The set for Boxed in was designed by Jonathan Van Beek, his simple set design uses cardboard boxes to create Derek and Joes world, I thought this was a clever idea as children love to play with cardboard boxes and often use them to create their own worlds and so is an object that they are all familiar with. Cardboard boxes are also really easy to move around the stage and so it was easy for the actors to reconfigure them when they wanted Derek and Joe to share the space and not be separated by the wall. I though the use of the boxes along with the lighting design looked visually quite interesting. As the show is mostly non-verbal the sound design played an important role in helping to tell the story, I thought composers Rosie Ridgway & Dean Rodney Jr did an excellent job with the sound effects they used, and the soundtrack was fun and upbeat.

Boxed in Production photo

Derek is played by the show's director Daryl Beeton and Joe by Jonathan Van Beek (who is also the show's designer) both were fantastic and worked really well together. Both Beeton and Van Beek's body movements and facial expressions were excellent at getting across the emotions of their characters, but I was particularly impressed with how animated Beeton's face was and I found him fascinating to watch. I thought the show was well choreographed and I especially enjoyed the part of the show where Derek and Jo were putting on their jackets turning them inside out and getting them tangled up and becoming wrapped up in them. I also loved the use of bubble wrap in the show as what child doesn't love bubble wrap, Derek rolling over it with his wheelchair to make a loud popping sound was excellent and him getting wrapped up in it made my little girl laugh at loud.

I thought Boxed in was a very clever and well thought out production which was funny, interesting and brought about an awareness of the difficulties people with hidden disabilities may have in our society. However it did seem to struggle to keep its young audience fully engaged throughout the show which is why I had to give it 3 stars.

If you would like more information about Boxed In and Daryl & Co click on the button below.

If you would like more information about Boxed In and Halfmoon Theatre click on the button below.

If you would like to find out more about Z-arts and the shows which will be coming to the venue, click on the button below.

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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