parker, gran, ben

Mr Parker, Granny and Ben. Pictures: Mark Douet 

Gangsta Grannie

Wolverhampton Grand


Old people are boring . . . or are they? Which is the question posed by David Walliams in Gangsta Grannie.

Walliams has that amazing ability of writing books which appeal to children and Isabel Ford as Granny brings that ability to glorious life, with some wonderful comic touches.

There is her obsession with cabbage from cabbage ice cream to cabbage crème brûlée which has children happily pulling faces with a yuk reaction, and then the odd pull to straighten the cardie, or her limited mobility which adds a touch of authenticity and then there is the wind assistance to her movement - flatulence.

Farts never fail when it comes to amusing children and Granny has plenty including the odd moment when it adds a sort of musical accompaniment between left and right as she walks along.

It is a lovely performance matched by Justin Davies as Ben, who wants to be a plumber, hates cabbage soup, and dreads having to stay with boring old granny every Friday while his parents dad (Jason Furnival) and mum (Jess Nesling) head off to their ballroom dancing class – a somewhat fanatical obsession.

Fridays were the lowlight of the week until Ben discovers Gran’s secret past, all hidden in a biscuit tin, and the plan evolves to carry out the ultimate jewel heist, stealing the Crown jewels.

Mum and dad live every waking moment for Strictly with mum obsessed with Flavio, a smarmy  former Strictly star as smooth as lumpy custard.

Both double up with Jess Nesling also playing a rather regal Queen, with one’s accent somewhat perfect, while Jason Furnival pops up as Mr Parker, the nosy, officious chairman of the local neighbourhood watch, who seems to only bother with the watch bit of his role, watch as in snoop.

elephants and bear

Granny explains to Ben about her encounter with elephants and a bear 

Irfan Damani gives us the obsequious Flavia and Raj, the newsagent who has ridiculous special offers on everything, the sort where you can buy a dozen boxes of Rolos and get one tube free . . .

Doubling up is the order of the day with a support cast of Paul Duckworth as a doctor and policeman, Jemma Geanaus as the matron and a WPC as part of an ensemble who act as stage hands with the clever set from Jaccqueline Trousdale. There are three revolving columns which with clever opening and closing and pull out items give us hospital, shop, ballroom, Ben’s home, Granny’s house, all in seconds.

Walliams also has the ability to get a message into his books, here that old people might not be boring if you take the trouble to talk to them and, just as important, listen. And with Gangsta Granny, there is even a little twist in the tail, or in this case the biscuit tin.

It is all adapted and directed by Neal Foster of The Birmingham Stage Company who are doing a fine job of bringing children’s favourites to the stage.

And speaking of children my own grandson’s are perhaps the best reviewers for Gangsta Granny. My six year old said: “It was really good. I liked the boy.”

My 10-year-old added: “It was very good, the actors were good, especially the granny, but certain parts could have been a bit shorter.

The general feeling from both – “We really enjoyed it,”

And you can’t ask for more than that.  Gangsta Granny will be offering cabbage soup and jewel heists to 26-02-22.

Roger Clarke


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