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Coram Boy at the National Theatre

Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Jamila Gavin's novel provides an electrifying, disturbing, utterly compelling night at the theatre.

Jack Tarlton as Meshak Gardiner and Anna Madeley as Aaron
Jack Tarlton as Meshak Gardiner and Anna Madeley as Aaron (Picture: Catherine Ashmore)


You soon understand why the National doesn't reccommend the play for under-12s: a baby is strangled, bodies are exhumed and a man is hanged. And that's all before the interval.

Thomas Coram – whose London home was in Rotherhithe – doesn't appear as a character in the play but his name is invoked and his Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury has a major bearing on the plot.

The action unfolds at breakneck speed as parallel plots are woven together and complex social issues in 18th-century England are tackled. The result is an exhillarating 2 hours 50 minutes of theatre that couldn't leave even an audience of cynical journalists unmoved.

Paul Ritter as Philip Gadarn and members of the company
Paul Ritter as Philip Gadarn and members of the company (Picture: Catherine Ashmore)


The casting is superb, the music – drawing on Handel's role as a benefactor to the Coram Hospital – splendid.

Going to see Coram Boy reminded me just how fortunate we are in SE1 to have the National Theatre on our doorsteps. Book your tickets now.

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