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The boy at the back of the class artwork


The Boy at The Back of the Class is a play based on Onlali Q Roufs award winning children's novel of the same name. The book has been adapted for the stage by Niick Ahad and the play has been produced by Rose theatre and Childrens theatre partnership. The play has a recommended age of 7+ and is aimed at but as an adult I found the play very entertaining, and I would definitely recommend it to adults.

The boy at the back of the class production photo

The play is directed by Monique Touko and tells the story of Ahmet a young Syrian refugee who speaks no English and has to start school in England. The play follows 9-year-old Alexa and her friends as they endeavour to find out more about the quiet new boy that sits at the back of their class. Whilst in the playground at school Alexa overhears one of the parents calling Ahmet a refugee, this is a word she had not heard before and so she asks her mum what it means. On finding out Alexa decides she wants to befriend Ahmet and make him feel more at home here in England. Alexa decides that a pomegranate may help Ahmet feel more at home as it is a fruit which is grown in Syria, so Alexa and her mum go on a quest to find one. Alexa eventually finds a pomegranate and decides to give it to Ahmet in the school playground, Ahmet loves the gift but Brendon the school bully soon spoils it by taking the pomegranate from Ahmet upsetting him. Ahmet tries to defend himself against Brendon and ends up getting in trouble with the horrible Mr Irons. As Ahmet's English improves, he starts to open up a bit more to Alexa and he tells her about his family. In order for the children in Ahmets class to understand him a bit better his teacher helps him to prepare a presentation about his journey from Syria to England. In his presentation we learn that Ahmet got separated from his family whilst traveling to England and that he does not know where his parents are. Alexa and her friends want to help Ahmet find his parents but when they here that the UK government is about to 'close the gates to the country' and stop any more refugees from entering the country, they must work fast to come up with a plan to reunite Ahmet with his parents. I found the story very moving especially looking at these issues from a child's perspective.

The boy at the back of the class production photo

The set designed by Lily Arnold is simple and looks like a large climbing apparatus that you would find in a school gym, this covered the back wall of the stage and could be moved around and folded in order to create new spaces such as the gates to Buckingham palace, a bus and even a television screen. This multifunctional and uncomplicated design allowed the audience to use their imaginations when the characters entered these spaces.

The boy at the back of the class production photo

The children in this show were all played by adult actors who all performed fantastically. The way the actors spoke and the mannerisms and body language they used really made you believe you were watching a bunch of mischievous and playful 9-year-olds on the stage. Some of the cast also had to multirole, switching between their child characters and a number of adult characters, which they all did seamlessly.

The boy at the back of the class production photo

The Boy at the Back of the Class is a great play for older children exploring themes of friendship, kindness and empathy. It educates the young audience about the plight of refugees and also addresses complex issues such as racism in a sensitive way and helps to promote tolerance and understanding of others. Although the play focuses on some serious issues there is still some humour scattered throughout it, so it doesn't feel too heavy for young audiences. I really enjoyed this play as an adult and I would recommend it to other adults as you don't need to be a child in order to enjoy the show, it has something for everyone. I will definitely be bringing my children to see the show when they are a little bit older.

The Boy At The Back Of The Class is on at The Lowry until Saturday 30th March 2024, you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the show and see where it will be touring to please click the button below for the show's official website.

Photo Credit - Manuel Harlan

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


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