Spoiler alert – Joe Sellman-Leava has created another hit show. This latest production follows a string of successes, but in Fanboy, directed by Yaz Al-Shaater, and playing at the Pleasance Dome this Edinburgh Fringe, Sellman-Leava seems to have found a subject that everyone can relate to in some shape or form.
I was at University in 1999 when The Phantom Menace was released. My best friend missed an essay deadline in order to attend the midnight screening, I couldn’t understand it, after all wasn’t it going to be playing the next day? Years later and I’m still not a Star Wars fan, but I have made some odd decisions for the things that I do love.
In Fanboy we meet Joe, who has just turned 30 and surrounded by his childhood possessions starts to question the behaviour of some fandoms. Naturally, there are fandoms for Marvel movies, Nintendo, The Muppets and about a hundred other things that Joe rhymes off in the opening moments of the show.
But the idea of fandoms also translates to politics, and the increasingly odd phenomenon (particularly from the right) of becoming very angry with people with differing viewpoints. This isn’t an overtly political show, but it certainly forms part of it.
Joe talks us through relationships with friends, family and a lover (some of their names might sound familiar). At the pivotal point of turning 30, Joe also unexpectedly finds himself connecting with his past and future self, with a nice little nod to The Muppets Christmas Carol thrown in. It makes Fanboy an especially touching look at the way we all grow up, holding on to our childhood passions, even when in adulthood our views might change.
Joe Sellman-Leava is an incredibly talented writer which is matched in the engrossing performance. With a few impressions thrown in, there’s plenty of humour here, but also more than enough to get you thinking about the endless culture wars that seem to be raging in every corner of life.
Fanboy in a way asks its audience to join the rebellion, to look beyond the things we hold on to dearly to question why innocent young minds grow up to be so angry, so obsessed with being right and winning. A deceptively vital piece of theatre from Joe Sellman-Leava.