Farm Boy, Assembly Rooms

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The Independent Culture

Is it "War Horse: the Sequel"? Not exactly, though Michael Morpurgo's Farm Boy does pick up the story of Joey the four-footed pal on Flanders field and his loyal Albert. In the course of a chat between a contemporary grandpa on a Devon farm and his grandson, we learn that Joey, and Zoe, were pitted in a ploughing race for a wager against a new tractor. That tractor sits centre stage, a symbol of change; the play is about continuity in the countryside, and the grandson's adoption of a new role in life.

The dramatic flashpoint comes in the story which the illiterate old man, tutored by his grandson, has retrieved and we flash back to the race day when Harvey Medlicott put up his tractor against 100 bales of hay. The tractor has been rusting at the back of the barn ever since, but the grandson is fired by its romantic appeal.

John Walters as the old boy and Matt Powell as the grandson play this modest, unassuming piece with buoyancy and charm. It may not have the epic grandeur of War Horse, but its heart beats strongly all the same.

To 30 August (0131 623 3030)

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