Rose Theatre, Kingston – until 7 April 2018. Review by Heather Chalkley
Preston Nyman’s unique style portrayed a believable boy, isolated on the family farm, where his imagination was the only entertainment and getting lost in his latest book about Billy the Wizard. Nyman’s George got the audience involved and delivered well balanced, clear diction with youthful enthusiasm. The only time Nyman began to lose his young audience was at the start of the potion making, which edged on becoming monotonous until he fully engaged the children in the process.
Catherine Morris’s caricature of George’s Mum was hilarious, using vocal tone and physicality to deliver the part, straight off the page of the original story.
Justin Wilman as George’s Dad, played to the adults in the audience. His not unfamiliar reactions to his mother-in-law got us all chuckling. Wilman as Dad created a visual picture with words as he dreams of success, by selling George’s Marvellous Medicine and solving world poverty – very funny.
Lisa Howard as George’s Grandma gave an outstanding performance, with a penetrating high pitched voice and a feast of facial expressions that made me laugh out loud.
My favourite character was Chicken played by Chandni Mistry. A great balance of slightly scary and very funny, Mistry’s physical performance kept the children and adults laughing together.
Tasha Taylor-Johnson has composed an evocative and quirky music score, that kept the children and adults equally engaged. Weaving the musicians into the production kept the focus on Centre stage and maintained the country farm feel.
The set is a masterpiece of characterisation straight out of Ronald Dahl’s imagination and a satisfying reflection of the literary illustrations.
The only constructive observation I would add is about the giant size Grandma. The massive arms didn’t quite work for me, not adding to the scary element or humour.
David Wood’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book captures the essence of the story, staying true to the dark and funny nature of Dahl’s style.
The Director Julia Thomas used this to create magic on the small stage, with smooth transitions and the use of inspired props. The audience particularly appreciated Grandma’s entrance on a mobility scooter as well as the chickens attached to remote control cars!
The final song delivered by the whole ensemble, was a health and safety warning to not try this at home! It certainly got the message across and raised a few smiles.
All in all a great afternoons family entertainment that I believe Roald Dahl would be pleased to put his name to.