Home » London Theatre Reviews » Bobby and Amy at the Pleasance Courtyard Edinburgh Fringe | Review

Bobby and Amy at the Pleasance Courtyard Edinburgh Fringe | Review

Bobby and AmyWhen one thinks of 2001, one’s mind is cast back to the terrorist incidents in the United States. But that wasn’t the only disaster – closer to home, foot-and-mouth disease hit rural Britain. Bobby (Will Howard) meets Amy (Kimberley Jarvis) – they are both 13 years of age. Bobby is home educated, by somebody only known as Mrs M. The play is set in one of those local communities where pretty much everyone knows who everyone else is. I wondered how the portrayal of Mrs M, a rather stereotypical older character who walks with a noticeable gait and thinks the local council is not only incompetent but downright evil, would be perceived by the audience. But, rightly or wrongly, it was well-received, particularly when she describes the council as “pathetic pieces of pernicious putridness”.

Between them, Howard and Jarvis play nineteen characters (well, twenty-one including Bobby and Amy themselves), and this is the kind of production that could be performed practically anywhere: for all intents and purposes, it is setless. This places pressure on the script and the actors’ performances to portray life in Bobby and Amy’s respective homes, a farm, the local fish and chip shop and the local chemist (and more besides). Briskly paced, the production’s strength is in its wonderfully skilled actors, who put on a number of different voices and accents, and somehow, it’s easy to tell where a given scene is set without costume changes.

Bobby and Amy have their eccentricities and are therefore subjected to bullying from others in their age bracket. Others, however, are very kind indeed – in the end, though, at a critical moment for the community, pretty much everyone comes together to unite behind Bobby and Amy in a stand-off between them and council-approved land developers. With such changing times being portrayed so convincingly, the play comes a twenty-first-century version of the Thornton Wilder play Our Town, and the interaction between the central characters is charming and sincere, if unconventionally so.

The sheer powerlessness of the general population in the face of sweeping changes is highly relatable, and it is thus no wonder that the show received a standing ovation at the performance I attended (a privilege absolutely not afforded to every Edinburgh Fringe production). For all the technical wizardry of shows with larger budgets, this one, if anything, serves as a useful reminder that theatre can shine bright with the beauty of good old-fashioned storytelling, and not much else.

Bobby and Amy is a masterclass in acting, a play that tackles a range of topics in a thoroughly gripping and entertaining fashion. A highly absorbing and brutally honest production.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

It’s the late nineties: Take That, Tamogotchis, Dib Dabs and Pog Swaps. When 13-year-old Bobby and Amy meet, hundreds of cows dot the fields and the sun always shines. But when foot-and-mouth disease hits the farming communities in rural England and the cows begin to burn, Bobby and Amy’s sleepy Cotswold town faces a catastrophe that will change their home forever.

In February 2001, foot-and-mouth was discovered at an Essex abattoir and it quickly spread across the UK. The highly infectious disease plunged the agricultural industry into its worst crisis for decades with over six million cows and sheep killed in an eventually successful attempt to halt the disease. However, the devastation the outbreak left behind lasted much longer with rural life being permanently eroded and areas of the country torn apart.

Writer/Director Emily Jenkins
Producer Emma Blackman
Stage Manager Roshan Conn
Bobby Will Howard
Amy Kimberley Jarvis
Social @BobbyAndAmyPlay, #BOBBYandAMY, @ThePleasance

Bobby & Amy
Pleasance Courtyard (Upstairs), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
Wednesday 31st July – Monday 26th August 2019

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