Leaving the theatre at the end of the show, feeling elated by the storytelling, my plus-one remarked that Coram Boyfeels rather Dickensian. It’s certainly not the first time that such an observation has been made. The characters may not have the eccentricities or depth of Dickens’ wondrous creations, but the sweeping tale does have a similar feel.
Coram Boywas adapted for the stage by British playwright Helen Edmundson from Jamila Gavin’s novel for young adults. Originally created for the National Theatre in London in 2005, it has since been seen on Broadway.
Ryan Hodson. Photograph © Clare Hawley
Set in England, just before the start of the Industrial Revolution, it begins in 1742, the year that Handel’s Messiahhad its first performance. Alexander Ashbrook (Ryan Hodson), who comes from a wealthy, aristocratic Gloucestershire family, is the best boy soprano in the choir at Gloucester Cathedral, and is passionate about music. However, his father Lord Ashbrook (Andrew Den), who is a shipping magnate, only begrudgingly allowed him to join the choir and is adamant that once his voice breaks – which it inevitably will soon – he must return and work for...