David Walliams experienced the vagaries of celebrity recently when his guest hosting spot on ITV’s The Nightly Show played to mixed notices.
The 2017 tour of Gangsta Granny is a timely reminder of a project which has helped to cement his fame, his best- selling book of the same name and its stage adaptation.
The ingredients are simple, a young boy staying with an ostensibly boring gran, wind inducing cabbage, and a discovery that his gran is anything but boring.
Aimed at the pre -teen market, the youngsters in the audience lapped up the slapstick fare. Gilly Tompkins’ Granny is a delight, dowdy and dressed down, but with an eye for jewellery beyond what she can hope to wear.
Grandson Ben (Ashley Cousins) journeys from reluctant house guest while his tedious parents go out, to doting grandchild, recognising the rebel spirit in his gran.
A mysterious tin box opens to become both a Pandora’s Box, and a portal into a new world in which Gran's life assumes a new and unexpected dimension. Cousins and Tompkins are a great pairing with a poignant tear jerking finale.
Ben’s awful, dance show loving Mum, played on the night by Sophie Gibbs, is a vulgar delight, Liz Garland as the Queen, farts – the kids loved that.
Jackie Trousdale’s, colourful, simple set is like a 3D cartoon, bold and functional with its own secrets. Walliams skilfully mixes standard slapstick fare with the surreal and the need of children, and adults, to dare to dream – even about stealing the Crown Jewels! Just watch out that the plan is not jeopardised by a nosy Parker, wickedly played by Benedict Martin.
The Birmingham Stage Company, directed by Neal Foster, handle the material adroitly, even down to an early start meaning a finish just after 9pm so that on a school night, the kids can get home to bed before too late. Fans of the book will not be disappointed by a script which is faithful to the source material, but newcomers will be equally enchanted by a tale which needs no prior introduction. Gangsta Granny is the perfect theatrical bridge for children taking that next step beyond pantomime fare, runs until Sunday 26th Mar and continues on tour nationwide.