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.
Boeing Boeing written by Marc Camoletti and directed by Robin Herford is a superb example of a classic farce.
We’re in Paris and it’s the swinging sixties and Bernard, a batchelor and highly successful Parisian architect is flying by the tail wind of the Jet Age. With three fiancées, who are all air hostesses for different airlines and flying on different routes, he has managed to ensure that only one of the women is ‘at home’ in Paris at any one time. However, with the dawn of newer planes and faster aircraft, Bernard’s carefully timetabled system is put under severe pressure.
When Bernard’s friend Robert, who he hasn’t seen for ten years, arrives unexpectedly – he too is caught up in trying to preserve Bernard’s three-timing secret. Robin Simpson gives a high energy and hilarious performance as he desperately tries to keep each of his fiancées apart.
Under the slick direction of Robin Herford, the cast are all exceptional with impeccable timing and their performances clearly thrive with the laughter from the audience. Ben Porter as the awkward and eccentric Robert and Gilly Tompkins as long-suffering housemaid Bertha, give outstanding performances, working at breathtaking speed as they try to conceal Bernard’s wrongdoing.
The three air hostesses give sterling performances and as one door closes and another one opens – they do not miss a beat. Laura Doddington as the brassy, outspoken American fiancée Gloria and Maeve Larkin as the sophisticated Italian fiancée Gabriella. However, it is Sarah Lawrie who really makes the audience squeal with her interpretation of the manic and passionate German fiancée, Gretchen.
The Oldham Coliseum’s production of Boeing Boeing is glamorous, exhilarating and highly entertaining. And although the plot is arguably quite preposterous, we have to suspend all of our moral sensibility to fully appreciate the absurd setting, exaggerated characters and slapstick comedy. Once you’ve handed in all moral judgement at the box office, prepare to board Boeing Boeing, you will not be disappointed.
Boeing Boeing is on at Oldham Coliseum until Saturday 6th June.