Pictures: Mark Douet

Billionaire Boy

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy presents a creative critique of consumer society and the power of money. Walliams’ trick is writing it with children in mind. There’s so much to enjoy; sweet characters which ring true, sweet music and songs, and a thumpingly good story. All, as Kenny Everett used to say, in the best possible taste!

It’s Joe Spud’s (Matthew Gordon) birthday and his dad, Len Spud (Matthew Mellalieu), as the creator, inventor of wonder product BumFresh, has made himself a whole lot of money- billions.

Joe can have whatever he wants; so long as it’s something that can be bought. All he really wants is a friend. He goes to St. Cuthbert’s, a really posh school with princes and dukes, where he is bullied mercilessly as the BumFresh Boy and worse.

Joe asks to try the local comprehensive, Ruffington’s. Will things be any better? Well, a little. He meets Bob Evans (Jake Lomas), bullied mercilessly at Ruffington’s and the seeds of friendship are sown. Joe decides to keep quiet about his wealth. Bob loves chocolate but has no money.


Joe is flush with money so word gets out about who he is. Raj (Tuhin Christi), the local shopkeeper, provides chocolate plus fatherly and friendly advice, as does the school dinner lady (Emma Matthews) alongside some truly inedible ‘food’.

Joe and Bob fall out as Jayden (Matthew Chase) arrives at school. He’s cool and popular, rids the school bullies of their power and is a great role model for Joe. But… Bob recognises him from somewhere. Is he a fake? Dad meets Sapphire (Rosie Coles), a grotesque gold digger, but it’s the beginning of the end as the product development goes awry. Is it the end of his good fortune … or maybe goodbye money is hello happy ever after?

I loved the teachers’ song made up beautifully of all the things teachers say to keep order; Walk Don’t Run, It’s your time you’re wasting, Would you do that at home? And the set is amazing; BumFresh Towers is a huge mansion made up of toilet rolls and clever little cupboards that change with the scenery.

 Just like the set, the production, from Birmingham Stage Company, adapted and directed Neal Foster, is full of surprises and delivers the moral with accuracy and wit; money can’t buy you love. Who used to say that? To 19-02-22.

Jane Howard


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