By: Sara Lamerton, TRP Reviewer
If you could converse with your younger self, what would you say? If you had the power to change the path that kid was on, knowing everything you do now – the ups, the downs, the pain you’ve endured, would you? And, if given the gift of foresight to witness who you will become – how you might grow bitter from life’s trials and tribulations, would you surrender to that bitterness, or work hard to forge a happier path?
Fanboy, written and performed by award winning writer-performer Joe Sellman-Leava, directed by Yaz Al-Shaater, takes us on a nostalgic journey. Reminiscing over his first loves, Donkey Kong, Star Wars, Home Alone, and The Muppets Christmas Carol, Joe discovers a dusty old VHS of himself as a boy. Unexpectedly, to both audience and Joe alike, in a strange but very welcome twist to this nerdboy fantasy tale, he comes face-to-face with the ghosts of his past, present and future.
Touching on cherished memories, we’re transported back to Joe’s lonely, but hopeful childhood. Finding solace by escaping into fantastical worlds, Joe fumbles his way through those awkward teenage years and beyond; eventually discovering connection in Wayne, a friend who shares an all-consuming Star Wars obsession. Then comes Gaya, the love of his life. A relationship that, although now in tatters, enables authenticity and the severing of ties with the restrictive confines of other people’s opinions.
However, Joe’s journey back in time doesn’t stop at personal relationships or fantasy hero worship. Fanboy expertly weaves cultural and social milestones of the past decade which have shaped and moulded the world around us: impacting attitudes and beliefs of those he once cherished, who grow distorted and angry in the face of nationalistic tribalism. Yet he comes to realise it’s not only the people he’s ‘against’ that suffer from this distortion. Suddenly confronted by the ghost of Christmas Future, Present-Joe is taunted and tempted to kill Past-Joe’s dreams in a futile attempt to shield him from the heartbreak and disappointment he’s unable to move on from.
No spoilers! But Joe must decide where his path is now headed. Will he kill that little boy’s joy, or embrace the wonder of his inner-child to find the peace and redemption he’s longing for?
On the surface, Fanboy could be seen as a show designed simply to appeal to the pop-culture nerds’ club, but it’s so much more than that. Although built on the back of Star Wars, heavily laden with references to Warhammer, and trolling internet fanatics, at the core is a clever tale of a human being reflecting, reminiscing and growing. Everyone, no matter their background or interests can relate to the struggle of finding your place, searching amongst the ashes of what’s been for what’s yet to come. Fanboy is a story of love, loss, hope and faith. A call to keep alive our curiosity about the world unfolding around us. A story to inspire openness, and a reminder that we all carry that innocent, inner-child who needs to be loved and cherished, nurtured and expressed if we’re to embrace the unknown with an open heart.