Review: Gangsta Granny
PUBLISHED: 16:02 20 October 2016
Photo by Mark Douet
If you are looking for a marvellous romp of a family play which tickles the ribs of all age groups then look no further than Gangsta Granny, which arrived at Weston’s Playhouse Theatre with a flourish yesterday (Wednesday).
Comedian David Walliams, who has become one of the country’s best-selling children’s authors after shooting to fame as co-creator and star of the ground-breaking comedy series Little Britain, has seen one of his most successful books transformed to a dazzling stage show which will wind its way to the West End after its current UK tour.
The plot follows 11-year-old would-be plumber Ben who is not looking forward to spending the evening with his boring granny while his parents indulge their passion for ballroom dancing every Friday night.
But little does he know she has a secret which could change his view of her forever.
Cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake may still be on the menu for him but the hidden talents of his granny are not exactly what he ordered.
The production has been created by Birmingham Stage Company and the show made its debut in the city a year ago, much to the delight of its author, who proclaimed it to be ‘so much better than the book’.
It’s easy to see why the company chose this of all Walliams’ stories as transferring it to the stage must have been a dream, with its outrageous almost pantomime-like humour, which easily encourages audience participation in parts such as the dance competition.
There were plenty of laughs to be had here, even if some of it was at the expense of people living on the Bournville estate but mainly at people who love the flamboyance of popular TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing.
The main stars, Gilly Tompkins as Granny, Ashley Cousins as Ben, Louise Bailey as Mum who doubled-up as the Queen and Ben Martin as Dad gave fabulous and completely over-the-top performances as the larger-than-life characters, as was Alison Fitzjohn who was brilliant as a variety of suitably-hilarious background characters.
The clever scene changes, created by turning three central blocks around to make each room and carried out by dancing cast members who pulled various bits out or moved them around as required, provided an added element of fun, instead of detracting from it, which is great for kids like my eight-year-old who is easily bored.
But as well as laugh-out-loud comedy at its best there’s also an underlying message about the importance of family, chasing your dreams and how older people can often be forgotten and ignored as their nearest and dearest get caught up in their own busy lives.
Every review I have read of the show, friends who have seen it and my son have all said it was hilarious, touching and brilliant and does full justice to the book.
In fact my son said it’s the best thing he’s ever seen which is high-praise indeed – especially as he felt he had to pipe up this information during a quiet moment during the performance!
Gangsta Granny will be at The Playhouse, in High Street, until Saturday.
There will be performances at 7pm tonight, 10.30am and 7pm tomorrow and shows on Saturday at 11am and 3pm.
Tickets, priced £18 for adults, £15.50 for children and £60 for a family ticket, are available by contacting 01934 645544 or online via www.theplayhouse.co.uk