Humble Boy, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


An award-winning new play that has been called "a brilliant latter-day variant on Elsinore in an English country garden blitzed by bees" (Sheridan Morley, The Spectator)

All is not well in the Humble hive. Thirty-five-year-old Felix Humble is a Cambridge astrophysicist in search of a unified field theory, but after the sudden death of his father, James, a teacher and amateur beekeeper, he is forced to return to the family home in the English countryside. Once there he and his demanding mother, Flora, a glamorous former showgirl who resents having spent the last thirty years in suburban exile, attempt to reconcile themselves to James's death and to each other, plumbing the depths of their anger as well as their love. The emotional turmoil increases exponentially with the arrival of George, Flora's longtime lover, and his daughter Rosie, Felix's former girlfriend, as Felix is forced to acknowledge that his search for unity must include his own chaotic home life. A play concerned with beekeeping and astrophysics, imbued with heartbreak and wit, larger questions of the universe and smaller questions of family dynamics, Humble Boy has been called "a feast: a serious, moving, cerebral feast" (The Sunday Times).


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 112 pages, black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Plays, playscripts
  • ISBN: 9780571212873



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This British play is a compelling family drama about what happens after James Humble dies in his garden, leaving his astro-physicist son, Felix; his demanding, imperious widow, Flora; and her bumbling, drunken and besotted long-time lover, George Pye, to battle over what they need from each other. George’s daughter, Rosie, Felix’s once-jilted lover, is also around – the cool-headed one of the bunch.There are a lot of complexities, twists, anger, hurt feelings, and pure humor in Humble Boy. Rosie may sum up the theme of the play the best: “Time doesn’t heal, but it accommodates.”

Review by

A play about science, this one about entomology. A bee keeper dies, and his son, a theoretical astrophysicist, returns home for his funeral. This brings him into direct conflict with his mother, who has seized the opportunity to get rid of the bees, and who is having an affair with a local businessman. Mostly a decent play about the difficulties of human relationships. The only truly likable character in the play is the gardener, a mysterious man who arrives and departs at strategic times in the play, and is part of a twist in the ending. The author should have checked her scientific facts a little more closely, however, as entomologists are not likely to spread the misinformation that a bee is aerodynamically unable to fly. I particularly enjoyed the ending scene in the garden, where botany takes the lead for a few minutes, an unusual foray into the world of scientific nomenclature, and a treat for a plant taxonomist.

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