‘Physics, Family, and Bees: “Humble Boy” Opens Tonight at Silver Spring Stage’

Every excellent comedy offers an unexpected mix of elements. In Humble Boy – opening tonight, Friday, January 8, 2016, at Silver Spring Stage – that mix includes physics, family, forlorn love, and bees. This intriguing stew starts to bubble when an astrophysicist returns home to find everything upside down, and it’s as dysfunctional and entertaining as The Big Bang Theory.

Joseph Coracle, Bill Hurlbut, Annie Caruso, Susan Holliday, and Nancy Blum. Photo by Harvey Levine.
Joseph Coracle, Bill Hurlbut, Annie Caruso, Susan Holliday, and Nancy Blum. Photo by Harvey Levine.

Written by Charlotte Jones, directed by Karen Fleming, and produced by Malca Giblin, Humble Boy runs weekends through January 30 (details below). There is a post-show Opening Night Reception tonight to which all audience members are invited, and there will be talk-back sessions after both Sunday matinee performances: The Soulful Gardener (Sunday, January 17th) and Beekeepers of Montgomery County (Sunday, January 24th).

“What I especially love about Charlotte Jones’ script is that the situations and people are so real, poignant, and very funny,” says Fleming.

Humble Boy finds Felix Humble (Joseph Coracle) returning to his family home in the English countryside after learning of the sudden death of his father, James Humble. He discovers that his mother, Flora Humble (Susan Holliday), has gotten rid of all of her late husband’s belongings, including the bees he kept. The reunion of mother and son does not go well, particularly Flora’s resentment of Felix exiting the funeral when it was his turn for the eulogy. Felix discovers that Flora intends to marry George Pye (Bill Hurlbut), a family friend, who is also the father of Felix’s ex-girlfriend Rosie Pye (Annie Caruso). While mother and son grow more apart, Flora sends her friend Mercy Lott (Nancy Blum) to befriend Felix and snoop for her. Felix sees through the deviousness and finds the gardener Jim (Craig Miller) as the only person he can trust. As the summer unfolds, secrets come tumbling out as Felix tries to come to terms with the past and his future.

Written with Tom Stoppard elegance and witty allusions to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Humble Boy premiered in 2001, winning the 2001 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best New Play and two 2001 Olivier Awards. What makes it appealing is the universality of family experience that it portrays: the expectations, encouragement, disappointment, and reconciliation.

Joseph Coracle, Bill Hurlbut, and Susan Holliday. Photo by Harvey Levine.
Joseph Coracle, Bill Hurlbut, and Susan Holliday. Photo by Harvey Levine.

“The humor is both universal and extremely British, whether it’s the juxtaposition between how Flora and Felix are dealing with James’ death or the other characters’ quirks and asides,” says Fleming. “Underneath all of the dysfunction, Jones shows us that the Humbles do love one another, and I find myself falling in love with this family.”

Humble Boy will entice and engage audiences with its intelligence and humanity – and will leave them buzzing long after they leave Silver Spring Stage.

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Humble Boy plays through January 30, 2016 at Silver Spring Stage – 10145 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD, in the Woodmoor Shopping Center. For tickets, purchase them online.

Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., plus Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on January 17th and 24th. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students, but $12.50 tickets are available for select performances on Goldstar. The opening night performance will be followed by a reception to which all audience members are invited.