Humble Boy
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

To bee or not to bee? That is the question in Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy now playing at Ross Valley Players in the Marin Art and Garden Center. Whether it is nobler to keep bees and bear the stings and possible anaphylactic shock for a mere mortal’s portion of their honey or simply silence the buzz forever.

To dream… oh well, enough of that. The point is that this is the story of Felix Humble (Matthew Purdon), a modern day Hamlet, and there are many subtle and delightful references to Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. There is the ghost of Felix’s father who was a beekeeper and his queen bee or wife Flora (Robyn Wiley) who was carrying on a shameful affair with another man when her husband was poisoned. There is even an Ophelia-like character, Rosie (Mary Beth Smith). But in this modern story, she has no intentions of going to a nunnery or going crazy. Instead she, like most of the characters, find a way of dealing with whatever troubled waters they are wading through, and it’s this modern twist that makes the play really interesting.

They are dealing with an “apocalypse of bees,” including thoughts of suicide, but they’re doing it with a sense of humor that overcomes the tragic. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” says Felix’s mother, “for they will irritate the hell out of you.” She also defines “chaos theory” as a mother being blamed for everything.

While Humble Boy avoids becoming a tragedy, it is a very serious comedy, which is the best kind. The drama draws you in to its world, and you really enjoy getting to know its characters, and when you laugh, you laugh with them.

For tickets or more information call (415) 456-9555 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.org.

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