Say David Walliams to any adult and they think of the tall one from little Britain and the camp guy from Britain’s Got Talent. But mention the name in front of any child and their minds are filled with boys in dresses, burgers made with rats, and of course, international jewel thief Grandma’s.
I am unfamiliar with Walliams works which are storming the child literature market hitting over 17 million global sales. So to make up for my lack of knowledge in the area I brought along my own personal expert in form of seven year old friend, Ella. Ella has read almost every Walliams book and can tell you the ins and outs of every tale including the favourite colour of the minor character in chapter seven of book five. She is also a fantastic critic, therefore this review is co-written.
This particular story follows Ben during time on his “boring” Friday nights with his cabbage-smelling, Murray Mint eating granny. Plumbing enthusiast Ben would rather be at home with his Strictly-obsessed parents, than at Granny’s enduring hours of Scrabble torture.
The Birmingham Stage Company have taken Walliams popular novel and transformed it from a great story for children into an entertaining show for all the family. BSC know exactly what makes this age group tick and how to keep it bearable for the parents too. This is a successful combination that will make the audience return for Walliams second stage show “Awful Auntie” which premieres in September.
I was massively impressed by the satisfyingly compact scenery than unfolds along with the story. The sound effects, musical transitions and audience participation kept the audio stimulation as high as the visual, something I did not expect from a show aimed at children.
The play is first and foremost a comedy with some serious moments and moral lessons thrown in for good measure. The type of humour kept every age group laughing. From puns to slapstick and childish to wit, they managed to cater for almost everyone. Children giggling at the Queen getting her groove on and endless bottom humour and some parents howling with laughter at certain moments, such as the getaway vehicle of Granny’s mobility scooter and the Strictly Come Dancing parody.
Ashley Cousins as Ben kept his relatable childish traits whilst growing closer to his Granny. His youthful voice never faltered and he is the perfect role model for all his new adoring fans. Louise Bailey as Gangsta Granny was strong in her role, particularly when you discover how young she is.
The heart warming story and love shown between Ben and his Granny left the auditorium of children wanting to go and see their granny for a hug and maybe a jewel heist or two. Parents entered the theatre dragging their heels behind their skipping children but left with a comforting sense of family unity and a smile on their face.
Gangsta Granny runs at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday. Perfect way to end half-term.