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Taking my 11 year old son and his friend along to watch Billionaire Boy at the Bristol Hippodrome last night was a perfect example of how the same production can leave different audience members with contrasting reviews. The boys liked it – well, some of it anyway – bum and poo jokes and all, and giggled along with the other children in a barely half full theatre. For me, on the other hand, it was a combination of a weak plot, predictable characters and lazy storytelling, so really not my cup of tea.

Billionaire Boy is the latest stage adaptation of the hugely successful books by comedian, talent show judge and celebrity everything David Walliams. It follows the story of Joe Spud, the richest boy in Britain and the son of a billionaire dad who made his money from designing a new type of toilet paper, Bumfresh – cue the start of copious bum and toilet jokes.

Matthew Gordon at Joe Spud and Tuhin Chisti as Raj

Now while young Joe has all the money, pet crocodiles, toys and treats that he could ever wish for, what he really wants is friend. So he asks his dad if he can pack it in at his posh private school and join the local comprehensive to meet some real people and hopefully find a pal. And things start well, with Matthew Gordon as Joe bringing a real charm to the part, showing Joe to be a real nice kid who values the love of his old dad and the chance to be a normal lad above anything else. Similarly, Matthew Mellalieu is great as the well meaning but ultimately misguided dad who clearly loves his son – even if he can’t bring himself to say it – and thinks that affection is best shown with another cheque for a million quid.

The problem is, as with a good few of the David Walliams books I’ve read with my youngest, the plot never really progresses beyond the purely predictable, with clichéd, poorly constructed characters meaning that you guess what’s going to happen way in advance of it actually taking place. Then add in any number of instantly forgettable songs, including lyrics which neither I or my son could make out, combined with clumsy choreography, and the result was utterly underwhelming.

Matthew Mellalieu as Joe’s dad making a grand entrance

To be fair, there were a few moments of light relief, including the dreaded lunchtime servings of a clearly deranged dinner lady – badger and onion pie or deep fried Blu Tack, anyone? – the arrival of dad at Joe’s school in a helicopter, which had my son’s friend awestruck and asking, “How did they do that!”, and the continual and very loud giggles of a little girl in the front row who clearly found the whole thing far funnier than the oldies in the audience around me, all of whom looked like they couldn’t wait for the interval.

Yes, you’re right, productions like Billionaire Boy are aimed at a far younger audience than me and David Walliams’ books are indeed very popular. But there’s a real frustration that celebrity-led books such as this one are given so much attention when there’s far better stuff out there with great characters and wonderful plots that could do the job so much better.

Billionaire Boy runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 11 June. For more information and to book tickets, click here.