In the first of a series of reviews of all – yes, all – of the shows at this year’s 24:7 Theatre Festival, Lucia Cox kicks off with a monstrous tale.

Kids, big or small, need not apply if they’re afraid of monsters. Billy isn’t and when one breaks into his house and threatens to eat his family Billy remembers that his grandfather (who now lives in the bedroom upstairs) was once a very brave monster-hunter. He decides to follow in the family tradition and take on the giant, fuzzy fiend.

Written by two real life mothers, Catherine Manford and Sarah Molyneux, Billy, The Monster and Me! takes place in Billy’s house where everyone’s too busy or too sleepy or too annoying to play with him. Is it his imagination that takes over or are there really monsters lurking in wardrobes and under beds?

The play is inventive, well-paced and absolutely hilarious. Nathan Morris is suitably excitable and bursting with energy playing young Billy. It’s up to Morris to keep the pace going and he does the  job. Supporting cast comes from Christabel Brown taking on dual roles as the busy mother and teenage big sister, Olivia. Dad and Gramps are tackled by Calum Scott and with live and recorded music by Barney Cooper, it’s a children’s play fizzing over with talent.

Brown as the moody, boring teenage sister Olivia steals the show with the fight between her and Billy as the highlight of the show. Brown’s depiction of the self-important teen is surely up there as one of the funniest 24:7 moments.

There are one or two sluggish moments where the pace drops but a simple trimming of script or a proverbial kick in the pants would resolve this. Generally, director Alyx Tole, who is no stranger to the festival, has done a very fine job.

Young and old are encouraged to join in the fun and fight on Billy’s team to beat the nasty monster. I can’t tell you whether we did. You’ll have to pop along for yourself and find out.

Review by Lucia Cox


24:7What: Billy, The Monster and Me! at the 24:7 Theatre Festival

Where: New Century House, Manchester

When: until July 25, 2013

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