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  • Writer's picturestevose31

'Laughing Boy' - a rollercoaster of happiness, sadness, indifference, humanity and most important buses!

A review by Steve Hardy and Lloyd Page. Thank you to Sarah Offley for taking us to the play.

Well where do start when writing a review? First of all everyone involved in this extraordinary performance need a massive thank you from the bottom of our hearts for brining 'Laughing Boy' to the stage. It's astonishing that this happened nearly thirteen years ago and we still remember reading 'My Daft Life', seeing Connor on the BBC and ITV news and watching this health organisation digging themselves deeper and deeper in the sh*t. Steve adopted day 93 of 107 days of action by jumping on 107 buses in one day. He got on the same bus 11 times, god knows what the driver thought of him! Lloyd made a comment that this is brilliant but there is a lot of swearing in the play, Steve replied there ain't enough swearing in this m****r f*****g world.

This play was written by the wonderful Stephen Unwin and based on Sara Ryan's outstanding book 'Justice for Laughing Boy'. Connor (played by Alfie Friedman) appears through out the whole play and asks questions to his mum Sara (played by Janie Dee) like 'am I dead mum?' at the beginning. From the very start you know you will be crying. The actor Lee Braithwaite who plays the role of Owen among many others brings humour into play, especially by pulling strange faces and doing lots of accents! Alfie who played Connor brought him to life, who was a 'quirky young man', who knows exactly what he likes and dislikes, loves buses, Eddie Stobart trucks and he loved his family and Chunky! But what shone through this is that we are watching a human being, not a special person, not just autistic but a valued person who belongs as part of society. But this lovely man was taken away from his family and the world.

The play doesn't hide behind anything and hit you with a literal punch of what is right and is so wrong. The health organisation must have known that they keep transcripts of inquests and court cases but still were determined to bring this family down, brick by brick. We heard a lot of 'never apologise' and 'reputation comes first'. If this wasn't actually recorded a common person may think this is so not true for a healthcare organisation to say. But I have worked in the NHS for 34 years and so many times I have heard this. I often think where does this come from? Are the extremely expensive leadership and senior managerial courses teaching this? Or is it handed down in the 'hierarchy'? But Sara must feel relieved or thankful or maybe nothing for seeing major reports again and again saying that the NHS needs to stop thinking of their reputation and the government are trying to introduce laws to make this illegal. Also one small thing that senior managers are taught is too keep on bringing up the 'minutia'. But Sara kept on repeating that her son died in one of your baths after having an epileptic seizure with no supervision. It is absolute common medical knowledge that someone who has a recent history of seizures must either have a shower or be supervised whilst in the bath (whilst maintaining dignity). How the organisations solicitors asked these type of 'minutia' questions, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Sorry we are ranting and raving. Back to the play. We don't know anything about the correct terms you should to describe acting but whatever methods they were using was perfect. It jumps backwards and forwards through time but we always knew where we were. The acting was superb. You actually thought you were there 12 years ago and you wanted to scream and shake some sense into the doctor et al. We would like to recommend Sara (played by Jamie Dee) gets awarded a BAFTA or something of the same stature. Every time she looked directly at us we started crying, we felt her hurt, we laughed along with her and most of all we feel that she is our hero.

The family never gave up and took all the sh*t thrown at them. We think we would to call them 'the milkman of human kindness'. Our hearts go out to you Sara, Rich, Rosie, Owen, Will and Tom. But most of all we love you Laughing Boy.

NB. This healthcare organisation was fined £2 million pounds for Connor’s death and another patient called Mrs Colvin.

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