REVIEW: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until May 23

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

Make sure you pack tissues if you’re going to the Theatre Royal this week.

This powerful production of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is sure to shock you, stun you, and move you to tears.

Based on the novel by John Boyne, it details the atrocities at Auschwitz during the Second World War through the lives of two young boys in very different circumstances.

Bruno (Jabez Cheeseman) is moved from his home in Berlin, after his soldier father (Phil Cheadle) is promoted, along with his mother (Marianne Oldham) and sister Gretel (Eleanor Thorn).

After exploring the grounds of his new home in Poland, he meets another young boy, Shmuel (Colby Mulgrew), who lives on the other side of a wire fence.

Neither of the youngsters know the truth of what is happening around them.

The pair strike up a friendship and meet at the fence every day to talk.

Seeing the brutality of what happened through the innocent eyes of the young characters is completely compelling and the pint-sized actors do an incredible job.

In film, youngsters can say their lines over and over again until they get them right, but these actors don’t have that luxury.

They weren’t phased at all by the pressure of live performance and delivered each line wonderfully, completely pulling the audience into the story.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

They didn’t just recite their lines – something you could excuse nine-year-olds for doing – but captured the personalities, troubles and essence of their characters.

Thorn also gave an impressive performance as the more mature Gretel, and Oldham and Cheadle are great in their opposing roles.

Supporting characters Maria (Rosie Wyatt), Pavel (Robert Styles), Kotler (Ed Brody), Grandmother (Helen Anderson) and Herr Liszt (Andrew Bone) also deliver the story effectively.

Styles doubles as Hitler, who appears on stage very briefly, and the portrayal of Eva Braun (Eva Bell), like in the book, is very interesting.

Seeing the brutality of what happened through the innocent eyes of the young characters is completely compelling and the pint-sized actors do an incredible job.

The play is a lot truer to the book than the film is and the story is one that really does strike a chord.

The staging is simple yet powerfully poignant as the circular stage revolves to show you the world through the eyes of the boys on either side of the fence.

Although the story of Bruno and Shmuel is fictional, the horrors of Auschwitz are not.

We all know what happened, but this gives you a rare opportunity to see it from both sides and through the unsullied eyes of children.

It’s a wonderful stage adaptation of a powerful novel.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas runs at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle until Saturday, May 23. Click here to book tickets.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

Twitter: @VickiNewmanJP

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.