Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
6.30pm, 2 February 2018
While the parent in me spent a large part of this show thinking “this is all really dangerous”, the child in me and the one with me, enjoyed it for what it was, a fantastical story from the anarchical mind of Roald Dahl that was a lot of fun to watch. And of course Dahl adapted by David Wood is a great combo for children’s theatre and the Curve in conjunction with the Rose Theatre, Kingston do it brilliantly and with style.
It starts with a bit of back story that’s not in the book but essentially the tale centres on George and his family who live on a farm – but then his nightmare grandmother who none of them – not even her own daughter – particularly like. Cue George planning to concoct a magic potion that will make her the nice gran that he wants, but of course, it doesn’t all go to plan.
An eager and likeable George is played by Preston Nyman who incidentally was the voice of Ben in Ben and Holly – and I’d always wondered what Ben Elf would sound like when his voice broke!
He enthusiastically, with the help of the audience makes a disgusting potion out of popular household items for his awful Gran who is fabulously and hilariously portrayed by Lisa Howard, clad in leopard skin and a demon on her mobility scooter.
Catherine Morris’s mum portrays the perfect level of just being on the edge of losing it that many parents often feel and Justin Wilman’s dad veers wonderfully between trying to keep out of the way and then becoming over excited at the thought of the potion making them rich.
He also plays a wide range of instruments throughout to play the incidental music and while it’s not a musical there are a couple of songs and a bit of dancing which add to the all-round experience.
It’s all totally bonkers of course and when the set is invaded by a giant chicken – perfectly inhabited by Chandni Mistry you know you are in Dahl world.
There’s plenty of audience interaction as we all become complicit in George’s outrageous experiment, remembering the ingredients of the potion and helping to warm and stir it.
I won’t spoil how Gran grows and then deflates but theatrically it’s very well done so while there are hilarious consequences to drinking the potion her downfall is Dahl-iciously brutal.
And just as I was thinking that I would be re-toddler proofing all the cupboard doors for a nearly eight-year-old, the company finished on a very definite “Don’t try this at home” song. Hopefully this, plus a little chat afterwards has done the trick.