The stage decorated with objects from his childhood to the present day, Joe is an unapologetic fanboy, with his Lord of the Rings DVD set – extended versions, of course – his Superman t-shirt and his box set of The West Wing, but it is his long, complex and shifting relationship with Star Wars which has brought him his greatest joys and disappointments.
Confessing himself to be “something of a magpie,” through home videos he revisits his youth, the innocent eight years old celebrating his birthday in 1997, the year his uncle introduced him to the original trilogy (“something sacred from the past”) and two years before the release of The Phantom Menace which at ten years old was to him the greatest film ever made.
The precise demographic at which the film was aimed to the point of even adoring Jar-Jar Binks, it was a love for which he was later made to feel ashamed, placing writer/performer Joe Sellman-Leave in an awkward dialogue with his younger self (Ethan El Shaater) which sets the pace of the show as he is questioned about his adult life, what it is like to be in his thirties, whether he is married, and why won’t he tell all the secrets of the next film?
Part nostalgia trip, part confessional, like the prequels and sequels Fanboy takes some dark turns, the true toxicity which greeted The Last Jedi exposing the undercurrent of racist and misogynist elements within the fandom, given voice by the open forum of the internet. Was it a perfect film? Perhaps not, but unlike The Force Awakens or The Rise of Skywalker at least it offered something new rather than rehashing old storylines.
Opening with a rapid-fire barrage of quotes from the films, surprisingly good impressions and better than the later attempt at Muppet Christmas Carol, throughout familiar lines are repurposed in a new context as Joe the teenager who compromised himself to belong now slowly finds his faith restored as a man, the past echoing around him but the future calling to him, offering a choice of which path he will take, Jedi or Sith.
Fanboy runs at Pleasance Dome until Monday 29th August