When I walked into the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry to watch The Boy With Tape on his Face, I really was not sure what to expect. I was aware that Sam Wills was a prop comic and I knew that this show would be performed with tape firmly stuck across his mouth. Normally, I would research but a theatre friend had told me that the less I knew about The Boy With Tape on his Face – the more I would enjoy it.
Having won the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award Panel Prize in 2012, Wills has recently made the final of America’s Got Talent and has just announced that he has a 7-week residency at the Garrick Theatre, London through summer 2017. His humour is perfectly simple, laden with wit and thoroughly charming – it’s easy to understand why the show with no words has managed to get everybody else talking. Recently, he has renamed the show Tape Face.
As the show opens we find Tape Face in a setting resembling backstage at the theatre, presumably he is waiting for his call to perform. He rests in a tatty old armchair, listens to the wireless and takes the occasional cat nap. Luckily for us, his curtain call never comes and his own show begins to play out.
Audience participation is the key with this show and Tape Face manages to drive plenty of unsuspecting audience members to the stage. One of the great delights of his act is the way that he conveys feelings with a look – a cheeky shake of the head or an intense raise of the eyebrows. Using everyday objects he creates mini comic sketches which are fascinating to watch – one being a western style shootout reenacted with staples and balloons.
As each unknowing punter is plucked from their chair to join Tape Face on the stage they are particularly good sports. There is only admiration for the chap who finds himself auditioning for The Full Monty and the poor fellow who keeps finding himself brought up to the stage only to be sent back down again.
Tape Face has a wonderful universal appeal about it – there are no language barriers because there are no words. I’ve deliberately written this review without going into too much detail about the show because I believe the less you know – the more you will enjoy it…
For Tape Face’s full tour listings click here. These listing include London’s Garrick Theatre from 6 June 2017.
The Lowry fizzes with excitement with the arrival of the Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of David Walliams’ much-loved Gangsta Granny.
Since 2008 David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm – writing nine children’s books and selling more than 12.5 million copies worldwide. Children (and grown-ups) love his books and it was clear to see that this stage show was also well received. Gangsta Granny has been a staple read in our house- the immersive sheer brilliance of Walliams’ wit has ignited our imaginations and prompted conversation. While the stage show doesn’t offer the same enveloping delight as diving into the original, the charm and excitement of the live stage match the vigour and flamboyance of Walliams’ writing.
Adapted by Neal Foster, Gangsta Granny tells the story of Ben (Ashley Cousins) and the relationship that he has with his little scrabble playing, cardigan wearing, cabbage chomping Granny (Gilly Tompkins). Ben loathes having to stay at his boring Granny’s house every Friday when his Mum (Louise Bailey) and Dad (Benedict Martin) go to watch their Strictly Stars Dancing show.
Vibrant and colourful, each character looks as though they have sprung from the pages of Tony Ross’ wonderful illustrations. Travelling around on her motorised scooter we soon learn that Granny is not as boring as we have been led to believe. Action packed and dream-like with a wicked brilliance, Gangsta Granny is poignant with some top-trumping wit and offers a thoughtful twist as Ben comes to realise that beyond the drab exterior, his gran is wild and adventurous.
‘It’s important to follow your dreams Ben, it’s all you’ve got to guide you.’
Jacqueline Trousdale’s set is colourful and snappy, the simple design makes scene changes swift and fluid. Jak Poore’s ballroom themed musical composition is lively and comical, adding further depth to the production.
Gangsta Granny is fun and fast paced and the perfect outing for children, parents and grannies. It continues to tour right through summer 2017 – running at 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is the ideal treat for those children who read, share and love Walliams’ writing.