Created in 2014, Carpe Diem Emmie is a Midlands based Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel blog. Ran by Emmie, a 28 year old woman based in rural Leicestershire.

In the day Emmie works in a primary school where she is passionate about inclusion and mental health. In the evening she escapes to the cultural world.

Wondering What To Read Next?

Interview with Natasha Lewis, The Boy in the Dress RSC.

Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BB, UK
Bringing joy to the stage this Christmas at the RSC is The Boy in the Dress. This debut children's novel from popular comedian David Walliams has been given the creative limits that theatre can offer for a Christmas production like none other. The story follows 12-year-old Dennis who is growing up in a house with his father and brother after his mum left the home after a divorce. He has become an outsider in his family, surrounded by a lack of emotion and compassion from his macho father and older brother, John. Dennis himself doesn't have anything against traditional make skills, but he's different.

Dennis likes more stereotypical female interests like fashion and the only reminder Dennis has of his mum is a photo of her in a beautiful yellow dress. A dress which is similar to the one he sees on the cover of a Vogue magazine. Dennis will encounter a friendship which will see him discover a new identity. 

But Dennis does enjoy football, and is particularly good at it too! He also has a best friend Darvesh who is pretty good too!

Taking on the role of Darvesh's mum is Natasha Lewis. This actress returns to the RSC after performing in Mrs Littlewood. Darvesh's mum is a wonderful, "although she's quite eccentric she's extremely kind". Her influence is pivotal to Dennis' journey in the story as "she's the only adult kindness Dennis knows, well certainly for three-quarters of the story". "I think it's quite easy to run away with the out there aspect of this character, she's overly supportive of Darvish. She's a feeder, her son is her world and although we don't learn much about Dennis' mum she has taken on this female influence in his life". 

Natasha has loved working with the young actors playing the part of Darvesh in the creative process, "the younger performers are so strong and they don't miss a beat because they're so on it!"

Reading David Walliams' books really helped Natasha engage with her character for this production. "I knew of a couple of David's stories prior to this. I knew Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie but I actually hadn't heard of The Boy in the Dress.  Before the audition, I read the book and I listened to the audiobook which was really interesting because when you read the book yourself you imagine it in one way", explains Natasha Lewis, "With the audiobook, it was read by David and Matt Lucas and then suddenly a totally different image is created."

"I fell in love with this story. Absolutely did."

Natasha explained why she thinks it was important to see a production like The Boy in the Dress, especially as a perfect show for the family this Christmas in Stratford-Upon-Avon. "I think you can't come away from watching the show without feeling utterly uplifted. You'll have a real sense of acceptance and understanding for other people. I think being empathetic. I think it's easy to fall into a rut sometimes where you know you are not that considerate and I think it's a huge deal that this boy carries this around with him."

There's a real dip into the topic of mental health within Dennis' story too, "Nobody around him is aware of how he's feeling and what's really going on inside. I hope that this story will encourage people to give a moment to other people". Natasha went on to say that "having a think about ourselves, peers, friends and family and also letting people just get on with what they want to do."

The heart-warming comedy has been adapted by Mark Ravenhill and with songs from Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers. It is packed with lots of exciting and thrilling elements to bring the story from the pages to life. "I have the best entrance into the show!" and there's "so much on the visual side that you'll want to know how they did it from reading the story yourself".  

The biggest challenge of this show for Natasha and the team has been the "technical things, there are lots and lots! We've had to absolutely pinpoint sections of the show, particularly the football. It's a huge element of the show with both of the boys, Dennis and Darvesh being on the team. This has been very very intricately handled by a whole team of people and to also bear in mind that we have 14 young performers that we do that with". 

"It's been quite a journey from the beginning of the rehearsals and how the football sequences have grown and developed. They're really quite something and every second has been pinpointed to a beat."

The Boy in the Dress has begun it's run at the RSC and will end on 8 March 2020. You should book tickets because "you'll come out of the theatre with the biggest smile on your face. It has a bit of sparkle but I genuinely think this is a show that young and old will enjoy." 

You can book your tickets by visiting the website here.


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