Billy (Hector Dyer) and Joe (Joseph O’Toole) have gone on a ‘holiday’... or rather, Joe has convinced Billy to steal away with him to an isolated birdwatching bunker. Bellow Theatre have created a challenging piece of new writing about growing up, friendship and independence through the lens of teenagers with autism. Heart-wrenching and lovingly put together,
Billy Through the Window is an opportunity to witness a rare and innovative piece of new writing, and is not to be passed up.
Though both characters share the condition, this is not a play about autism. Instead, the piece examines the struggles faced by us all: what on earth does it mean to grow up, really? And does growing up inevitably entail growing apart from those whom we love?
Crafting portrayals of autistic young people which are neither insensitive nor unrealistic demands a great deal from any cast, but Dyer and O’Toole both rise to the occasion in interesting and divergent ways. Dyer expertly plays Billy’s guarded introspection with touching physicality and quiet grace and O’Toole’s volatile Joe energetically drives the piece. In places I felt as though greater contrasts in the intensity and volume of delivery were required in order to make moments of extreme distress more impactful. Nevertheless, overall both performances are convincing and emotive. While the piece is humorous in places, careful writing ensures that we laugh with, never at, the characters onstage.
Billy Through the Window brings light to a perspective too often marginalised. Internal power dynamics whirr inside the bunker, strewn with maps and birdwatching equipment; all the while, outside of it, we come to understand that these characters are dependent upon others. This is both fascinating and difficult to watch in equal measures, and makes for tense, unpredictable theatre. Billy Through the Window is an opportunity to witness a rare and innovative piece of new writing, and is not to be passed up.