My kids love David Walliams books, as do most of their friends. They seem to capture that funny, slightly rude and anarchic vibe that Roald Dahl had too, which kids just adore. When the opportunity to see Gangsta Granny at the Cliffs Pavilion came up, they leapt at the chance. I took Felix, nearly 10 and Iris, 8, and opted to leave Dexter at home. He’s very well behaved and has been to the theatre a few times, but at only 4 seemed a little too young.
Firstly, and most importantly, the kids loved it. Like, seriously loved it. All the way home they raved about how it was amazing, the best thing they’ve ever seen etc. To be fair, they do say this after every play or musical they go to see, but it was still a genuine and heartfelt response. The huge smiles on their faces said it all.
The play was very true to the book (“exactly the same”, according to Felix) and covered the story well, adding in some fun interludes – the set was changed by characters who came on dancing and spinning round, which made the whole thing very fun. The actor playing Ben was good, though if I am honest I found his attempt at a childlike voice quite annoying, and the supporting cast were excellent: very funny and quite cartoonish in their portrayal of the characters. The kids especially liked Raj, the shopkeeper who frequently makes an appearance in Walliams’s books, and were thrilled when he made an appearance in the interval, making offers to people who were queuing up to buy ice-cream: “buy one million ice creams, get one free”.
I enjoyed it too, and thought it was a good telling of the story. I especially liked the set – a really nicely crafted piece of work that turned round and represented different scenes depending on where the characters were at that time. It’s hard to explain but it looked great.
The highlights really came in the second half, when the the cast began to engage more with the audience, encouraging them to clap along, boo the baddy and eventually to get up and dance. The kids just thought this was the most amazing thing ever, and it was wonderful to see an auditorium full of dancing, happy children. A really fun night out.
Gangsta Granny runs at Cliffs Pavilion until July 9th. For more information and to book tickets, visit their website