Reviewed – 2nd November 2017
“The creative team have worked their magic to such an incredibly high standard”
Whether you are six or ninety-six, I can guarantee that the hilarity of this show will appeal to everyone. David Walliams, with his impressive career as a writer and comic actor (who can forget his first number one best seller ‘Gangsta Granny’? Or his TV co-creations ‘Little Britain’ and ‘Come Fly With Me?’) delivers this wonderful story which is adapted for the stage by Neal Foster (actor, writer and creator of The Birmingham Stage Company). I knew I was in for a treat!
It is a story of a young, recently orphaned girl Stella (Georgina Leonidas). Having survived a car accident in which both her parents were killed, her Aunt Alberta (Timothy Speyer) decides to take care of her and the family estate. How kind and responsible, you might think – but things are not what they seem. As the story unfolds, it appears that Aunt Alberta has stretched the truth and well, completely lied about most of it. Realising that she is in danger, Stella does what anyone would do; befriends a friendly ghost, avoids a terrifyingly large owl and climbs up the chimney, on more than one occasion.
Timothy Speyer brought the house down. His portrayal of Aunt Alberta was both funny but equally terrifying at the same time. From his screechy high-pitched wailings to his ability to rock a matching jacket/knickerbocker combo, it’s safe to say we counted ourselves lucky that we weren’t the ones locked in that tower under Alberta’s care. I have to say, my favourite character however, was the elderly and bonkers character of Gibbon, the butler (Richard James) who never failed to present the audience with a veil of absurdity.
The creative team have worked their magic to such an incredibly high standard. The use of puppets in the production, directed by Roman Stefanski (Polka Theatre, Wimbledon and creator of touring puppet shows ‘Charlie and Lola’ and ‘Sarah and Duck’) brings Wagner the owl to life and we are also treated to a scene that turns all of our characters into puppets!
Jacqueline Trousdale, the set and costume designer for the Birmingham Stage Company, has brought so many great things together for ‘Awful Auntie’. From the set, comprising of individual turrets that are spun around to reveal the inside of Saxby Manor, to the chimney sweep uniform of Soot, our friendly ghost.
The show highlights the fabulous work that goes into a production and is inspiring for theatre-goers of all ages. Such an entertaining spectacle – I want to see it again!
Reviewed by Stephanie Legg
Photography by Mark Douet
is touring the UK until July 2018