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The Boy at the Edge of the Room

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The Boy at the Edge of the Room
  • The Boy at the Edge of the Room
    By Richard Conlon

  • Written By
    Richard Conlon
  • Directed By
    Kirstie Davis
  • Designed By
    David Haworth
  • Composer/Music By
    Rebecca Applin
  • Choreographed By
    Junior Jones
This show toured from 7th Mar 2013 to 20th Apr 2013

Produced in association with:

Activate Logo  Anvil Arts LogoLighthouse Poole

The Boy at the Edge of the Room  is supported by:

The National Lottery through Arts Council England

Frank and Elizabeth Brenan
The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust
David Solomans Charitable Trust

Tony meeting the little wooden girl puppet for the first time.

The Boy at the Edge of the Room

‘He was not like other boys….He did not see the world through the same eyes as us”

A boy called Tony struggles to fit in and find his place.  He has a different way of looking at the world and longs to retreat to place where he can be ‘’nothing more than small and far off’. Those surrounding him have little patience for his dreams, with the exception of his mother who will do anything to ensure his happiness. 

When a mysterious ‘dealer’ offers Tony the chance to make his dream come true, his mother must face a future without him, and the audience is forced to confront an unsettling and moving ending.

The Boy At The Edge of the Room is a fairytale for adults, inspired by Lucy Clifford’s 1882 story Wooden Tony. It focuses on a character who displays many of the classic traits of those on the autistic spectrum. It is a beautiful and moving examination of difference and acceptance, brought to life through song, movement and puppetry.

Recommended age 12+

Created with help and advice from the Hampshire Autistic Society.

Image of Lee RuffordLEE RUFFORD

Lee trained at The Oxford School of Drama. He is also a winner of the S.O.L.T Laurence Olivier Bursary Award. Roles whilst training include Chris Keller in Arthur Miller's 'ALL MY SONS' and Mosca in Ben Johnson's 'VOLPONE'. Lee recently appeared in Paddy Considine's directorial debut feature film, 'TYRANNOSAUR' and has spent the last 9 months touring with Forest Forge on 'BLOOM', 'MIDNIGHT IS A PLACE' and presently with 'THE BOY AT THE EDGE OF THE ROOM'.






Image of Helen Jeckells


Theatre includes: Miss Skillon in See How They Run (UK Tour), Ruth in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, (UK Tour), Rigoletto and La Forza del Destino (Royal Opera House), Drama at Sea (P&O), Don’t Look Now (UK Tour), First Fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Adriana in Comedy of Errors, Mary Mooney in Once a Catholic, Mary Tilford in The Children’s Hour, Essence of Ireland (UK Tour), Spirit of the Dance (USA).

 Helen has appeared in/choreographed over 20 pantomimes across the UK and this Christmas appeared as Witch Hazel in Beauty and the Beast in Newark.

 In 2012, Helen joined Forest Forge for “Bloom” and is delighted to be returning to this wonderful company for another season in “The Boy at the Edge of the Room”.

 Helen is represented by ASH Productions LIVE – Personal Management.



Picture of Christopher ChamberlainCHRISTOPHER CHAMBERLAIN

Chris read English at Cambridge University and trained at LAMDA.

 Acting credits include Fred in A Christmas Carol (Theatre-In-The-Quarter), Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Another Way Theatre), Chang in The Firework Maker’s Daughter & Rasputin in Skellig (Birmingham Stage Company UK Tour & Broadway), Macbeth In Macbeth (Word Of Mouth), Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels (Minack Theatre), Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Oxford Stage Company) and Felix Powell in Peacehaven – On Special Offer (The Company). Actor/musician credits include All Join In (Polka), In One Ear (Theatre Rites), Children of Hercules & Treasure Island (Scoop) and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Manchester Library).

 Chris runs his own theatre company www.anotherwaytheatre.co.uk with his wife, actress Nicky Chambers. Their next project is Antony & Cleopatra, to be staged at The Minack Theatre, Cornwall in June. Other directing credits include Guys & Dolls (CIT), Twelfth Night (The Space/Hoxton Hall & Middle Temple Hall), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Queens Park, Caterham), Olympus The Musical (Fairfield Halls & Minack), Cyrano de Bergerac (ADC) and The RSC Openstages Project, Much Ado About Nothing (Questors).

 Professional commissions include musical scores for Peter Pan (Tomfool), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Strangefish), Twelfth Night (Oxford Stage Company), In The Bleak Midwinter (Farnham Maltings) & The London Nativity (Steam Industry). He has co-written three full-scale musicals - Gunpowder Treason & Plot (shortlisted for The Vivian Ellis Award and produced at The ADC Theatre, Cambridge), Olympus (RSC Openstages 2012 Minack Tour) and Gulliver’s Travels (produced at The Minack and subsequently published by www.stagescripts.com).


“I don’t like sharing the ball with anyone. I don’t really like sharing at all. But now they make me share... I don’t really like it but I don’t have a tantrum. I don’t have many tantrums now, not as many as I used to...”


One of the key objectives of the Boy At The Edge Of The Room project for Forest Forge has been to increase awareness of Autism and of what it is like to live as, or with, somebody on the autistic spectrum. Although we have a lot of experience as a company, of working within this field, the thing about autism is that you never stop learning. Just when you think you might really know a lot about the subject, something or someone comes along that completely challenges your preconceptions.

We took the opportunity of staging the play ‘The Boy At The Edge Of The Room’ as an inspiration to explore autism in ways we have not done before. Forest Forge has an ethos of creating theatre that likes to hear ‘straight from the horses mouth’, we have been creating verbatim theatre for thirty years, since long before the style’s recent popularity. If you are researching a subject, you can’t beat talking to the experts; people who have lived the stories you want to tell. We took this ethos and applied it to Autism. Last Easter we ran a week-long project called ‘Me and How Other People See Me’. We created a safe environment within our studio where children with Autism and their families could come and share in some drama based fun and creativity. Six children and their parents attended. Each day we played a series of structured drama games, did some basic drama improvisation, talked to the children about their feelings and experiences, and spent time doing various craft based work. The idea we discussed with the children from day one was to explore what they think of themselves and compare that to how they think other people perceive them.

 We always intended for the project to result in some kind of public display about living with Autism. This developed into an interactive installation that gives members of the public a unique insight into the world of an autistic child. Going on the road with the show will be two ‘children at the edge of the room’. These sculptures will be abstract yet lifelike representations of teenagers sitting or standing in the foyer of the venue, apparently ‘listening’ to their Ipods. But what they are listening to, and what we will invite audience members to listen in on is a recording of voices. 

We have interviewed children that we met at the workshops then transcribed these interviews and used actors from the Forest Forge Youth Theatre to speak the words set to music from the play ‘Boy’ by Rebecca Aplin. We want audience members to take a moment standing in the shoes of a child with autism so that they learn a little of what that person goes through every day.

We have been struck by the positive things as we have talked to the families; the laughter, the love. Of course there are negatives as well; terrible frustrations, fear and cruelty, a huge sense of things not being fair. But we hope what also comes across often is the ‘normalness’ of things, the little joys and happiness. The thought that we are witnessing just another kind of normal, one that we need to take the time to try to understand.


I’m the same as everyone else, I just need more help. I’m like the doctor, Doctor Who, in a way; nobody understands him but he’s bright and he saves people.”

‘Me and How Other People See Me’ installation will be touring alongside The Boy At The Edge Of The Room.

Viewer Reviews

  • Craig Titley
    Posted on
    29th April 2013

    A thoroughly enjoyable performance. Such a great story beautifully told, many congratulations to all the cast and creative team. This production deserves a longer life.

  • David Clark
    Posted on
    19th April 2013

    This was a fantastic production; all three actors gave brilliant performances and the animation and puppetry were amazing. To touch on such a sensitive subject in an informed, emotional and yet at times humourus way requires a great deal of skill - well done to all involved.

  • Derick Oakham
    Posted on
    17th April 2013

    Yesterday evening I was in the audience at The Quay Arts Centre, Newport I.O.W. to see a performance of "The Boy At The Edge Of The Room."

    What a splendid production it was. Wonderful performances by the three actors involved. The actor who played the part of Tony was exceptional( Sorry I did not have a programme so did not catch his name.) A really fantastic theatricle experience. Thank you to all involved. The puppets were pretty fantastic too.

  • Carole Mitchell
    Posted on
    15th April 2013

    I saw this show at the Pleasance Theatre in London on Friday night, and was totally caught up in the story telling and beautiful work produced by this 3 person cast. You felt the same anguish that the boy Tony, his mother and his father felt at this boy who was different but special. A stunning, powerful piece that brought me close to tears. I hope to see them again for a longer run in London.

  • Mary and John Neighbour
    Posted on
    13th April 2013

    A lovely, thoughtful play with beautiful performances. A truly mesmerising and heartbreaking performance by 'Tony'. A play that makes you sit up and think. Well done Forest Forge.

  • Darren Benedict
    Posted on
    11th April 2013

    I saw 'The Boy at the Edge of the Room' last night at The Pleasance theatre, Islington and thought it was terrific.

    For me it was family theatre/story telling at its best. Loved the use of song, graphics, music and puppetry - a real feast for the senses! Excellent performances from the three-strong cast but a special mention has to be made to Lee Rufford - I thought his interpretation of the boy, Tony was exquisite.

    Huge congrats to Kirstie Davis and the team!

  • Carol (and Charles) Joyce
    Posted on
    5th April 2013

    Beautiful music, poetic prose, thought provoking subject. I was particularly impressed by how much you can do with so little scenery! True theatre - and this morning I'm still thinking about how Tony saw life in a different way. Well done to all of you.

  • Robin Gammon
    Posted on
    3rd April 2013

    Brilliant! An outstanding, thought provoking production! Actors were superb. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Thank you!

  • Jilly Breeze
    Posted on
    2nd April 2013

    A wonderful evening and a stunning piece of theatre, I thoroughly enjoyed it

  • Charlotte Resuggan
    Posted on
    28th March 2013

    A modern fairytale that used fantastic theatricality to enthral it's audience. I was amazed by the puppet, the inventive staging and the clever, timeless approach that explores the challenges of parenthood. This was a sensitive and engaging performance that once again highlighted the fantastic breadth of work that Forest Forge produce.

  • Caro Day
    Posted on
    26th March 2013

    Wow, another incredible Forest Forge production, combining compelling performances especially by Tony, beautiful music, clever animation, and the most darling puppet I've ever seen! The subject matter was handled incredibly sensitively by the company, I saw such strong parallels with a family I know whose world changed completely as they ineptly adapted to their autistic son's behaviour patterns and the challenges it led to in their relationship. This is a fairytale with huge contemporary relevance which both enchants and haunts.

  • Fi Ross
    Posted on
    25th March 2013

    a moving and enchanting evening - great theatrical choices / performances, direction and storytelling - the production doesn't hammer its issues home - but leads you though to form your own conclusions -

  • Jenny Wicks
    Posted on
    24th March 2013

    I thought 'The Boy at the Edge of the Room' was very powerful. The actor playing the boy, in particular, was completely mesmerising. I also really enjoyed the music and the animation, and felt that all the elements worked together to create a beautiful piece of storytelling, as well as the fact that we came away with much to ponder on.

  • Charlotte Moore
    Posted on
    8th March 2013

    I thought it was great. A real collaborative effort and every element worked. There was lots to admire, but I particularly liked the relationship between husband and wife, which was a true portrait of a marriage thrown out of kilter by autism. Also the whole question of Tony's usefulness, or the reverse. Increasingly I feel that autistic people should just be allowed to "be".

  • Lucy Sewill
    Posted on
    7th March 2013

    Can't tell you how powerful I found 'Boy'. Written with incredible insight and brilliantly performed by you all. Non- patronising and full of compassion.

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