You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Farm Boy

"Farm Boy" is a sweet show, but it comes to the Brits Off Broadway festival with marketing issues.

Grandson - Richard Pryal
Grandfather - John Walters

“Farm Boy” is a sweet show, but it comes to the Brits Off Broadway festival with marketing issues. Heart-warming two-hander about the deep bond between an old farmer and his grandson was adapted from a story by children’s author Michael Morpurgo, who claims it to be a sequel to “War Horse,” for which he also provided the source material. In your dreams, people. This gorgeously acted story-theater piece has its own modest charms, but auds expecting to see more of Joey, the farm horse who distinguished himself in that magnificent Tony Award-winning show, will be sorely disappointed.

John Walters (Grandfather) and Richard Pryal (Grandson) are both mesmerizing storytellers, entrusted by adapter-director Daniel Buckroyd to convince us that the featureless stage is a sprawling family farm in the English countryside. With only an ancient tractor (a stylized work of folk art crafted by Tim Brierley and Susan Winters) and Mark Dymock’s dreamy lighting to establish the bucolic setting, thesps’ hypnotic voices are enough to create the illusion of a working farm teeming with life.

Joey the war horse does figure in the story, in the sense that the old Grandfather remembers the horse that his father, the boy Albert in “War Horse,” brought home to the farm from the battlefields of France at the end of World War I. But Joey is not a true presence in the narrative, not even in the scene when the old man’s old man nearly works him to death in a plowing competition with a tractor.

As remembered by Grandfather (and played by Walters with an iron will, but heartbreaking physical fragility), the aged Albert has more full-bodied dimension. It’s a subtle thing, but when Pryal portrays the Grandfather as a young man, it’s only a slight variation on his warm portrayal of the Grandson. On the other hand, when Walters plays his character’s father Albert as an old man, an entirely different character comes alive.

It’s in their original roles, though, rather than in the flashier transformation scenes, that Pryal and Walters are truly simpatico. And when Grandfather and Grandson finally forge their bond on a project that transcends the generations, it’s enough to move an audience to tears.

Popular on Variety

Farm Boy

59E59 Theaters; 99 seats; $35 top

Production: A New Perspectives Theater Company presentation of a play in one act by Michael Morpurgo, adapted and directed by Daniel Buckroyd. Composer, Matt Marks.

Creative: Lighting, Mark Dymock; tractor construction, Tim Brierley; tractor painting, Susan Winters; production stage manager, Amy Kaskeski. Opened Dec. 13, 2011. Reviewed Dec. 8. Running time: 1 HOUR, 10 MIN.

Cast: Grandson - Richard Pryal
Grandfather - John Walters

More Legit

  • Broadway-Breakfast-Split

    Variety to Celebrate Second Business of Broadway Breakfast With Thomas Schumacher, Diane Paulus and Diablo Cody

    Variety has announced the lineup for its second annual Business of Broadway breakfast presented by City National Bank. Joining the breakfast on Oct. 7 is the president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher, who will take part in the event’s keynote conversation. In his position, Thomas oversees the company’s worldwide stage productions, which [...]

  • Sue Wagner John Johnson

    Tony-Winning Producers Sue Wagner and John Johnson Announce New Venture, Wagner Johnson Productions

    Sue Wagner and John Johnson, seven-time Tony award-winning producers, announced Wednesday that they have embarked on a new theatrical business venture, Wagner Johnson Productions. Under the name, they will produce and general manage a wide scope of theater productions. One of Wagner Johnson Productions’ current projects is a musical rendition of “Almost Famous,” which will [...]

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content