“I wanted our sons to see that they could aspire to more than retrieving trolleys from ASDA’s carpark. Thank you…”
This comment, albeit tongue in cheek, from someone who watched the Myrtle Theatre Company’s performance of Up Down Boy, reflects some of the appeal of a play praised for both being honest, amusing and uplifting.
The central character, Matty, is played by Nathan Bessell, the playwright Sue Shield’s son. Shield’s semi-autobiographical story, about the peaks and troughs of bringing up her child, aims to present a real picture of parenting a young person with a learning disability.
Originally performed at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatre, Up Down Boy is on national tour from September to November, starting with a relaxed performance at The Shed at the National Theatre tomorrow.
The premise is that Matty’s imminent departure for college sparks mixed emotions in his mother: “You’ve got to stop living on Planet Matty. You’re going away. You’re going to have to live in the real world”
As Shields has said: “The day we were told our son had Down’s syndrome we felt like the bottom had dropped from our world. I have now found from my own experiences that having a child with special needs gets you straight to the back of the queue, and that the special needs are often blatantly ignored. I found then that I had a choice – sink or swim. Stand up and fight for what I believed to be rightfully his or stay at the back of that line and accept what was handed out to him. I think too much of him to let this happen.”
For more information and tickets, see The Shed website.