The Custard Boys

Based on the novel by John Rae

Adapted and Directed by Glenn Chandler

Five London schoolboys are evacuated during the Second World War to a Norfolk seaside village, far from Hitler's bombs.   They want to become soldiers, and fight for England.  But they are too young to join up and too old to be patient.


They play war games.  They organise themselves along military lines.  They battle a rival gang. They join the school cadet force and learn to parade and fire rifles. But it is not war.  Not real war.  Real war is dangerous but also glorious.  They know because they see it at the cinema every Saturday afternoon.  They are too naive to know the power of propaganda.


Sixteen year old John Curlew imagines himself being a Spitfire pilot but can only stare at the skies and dream.  Mark Stein is Jewish, Austrian and a pacifist refugee who hates the war and longs for it to end.  When these two boys are thrown together and form a close bond, their friendship invites loathing and prejudice, and a train of events is set in motion which leads ultimately to tragedy.


The Custard Boys was filmed in the 1960s as 'Reach for Glory' and is a story of sexual awakening, loyalty and betrayal which was compared upon publication to 'Lord of the Flies'.  The show ran for five weeks at The Tabard Theatre 13th April - 12th May 2012.











A play about love, war and grown-up stuff


**** A gem.  A touching and often very humorous adaptation with a commendable young cast.        Broadway Baby


**** "Director Glenn Chandler and his team have produced something wonderful here.  The play is incredibly well cast.  An endearing tale ... we could watch again and again.  A must see!"      Boyz Magazine


**** "The nostalgia feel of an Enid Blyton era full of high japes and tomfoolery but with real guns.  The Secret Seven meet war games.  One Stop Arts


**** "Wonderfully organic and full of a rare energy...more than worth the price of admission."              SoSoGay


"A fine directorial debut ... a touching adolescent tale of boys desperately impatient to grow up."        Bargain Theatre


"An excellent evening with performances to match...the pace zipped along throughout."                     What'


"Comparisons between Lord of the Flies are inevitable.  What makes The Custard Boys even more shocking is that it occurs in a civilised society"


"The talented young ensemble excels...the cast scamper around Cecilia Carey's boys-own adventure set with terrific invention."   The London Magazine


"Strong character performances...Chandler's easy direction allows the ensemble to switch effortlessly between realism and fantasy to maintain pace and interest throughout."   The Stage


"Excellent...projects the theme that war is war, something bloody and terrible, that in real life it isn't a glorious game."   British Theatre Guide


"A strong story about the wastefulness of war.  An entertaining thought-provoking evening.  We're lucky to have it at The Tabard"  Chiswick OnLine


"A well-observed study of class, bigotry and prejudice.  The play has a strong heart with a solid beat.  QX Magazine



"The Custard Boys still touches a nerve with its story of young male love, bullying, loyalty and cowardice.  The History Boys without grown-ups ...  this production could easily work on a larger stage in the West End."





SoSoGayMagazine Awards