Garrick Theatre, London -until 3 September 2017
Having never read a David Walliams book before I did not know what to expect from the stage adaptation, so I took along a young person who had. Here is what they had to say:
They got every detail from the book and comfortably put it all in one play. When they changed the scene, dancers came on and put stuff away they didn’t need, and got the things they needed out. Amazingly, the actors did this whole manoeuvre while dancing. Every moment was gripping and exciting. I felt as if, if I took my eyes off of them, I would miss something amazing. All characters looked and behaved as they were described in the book. Everything had life. It all ran smoothly and was really enjoyable to watch.
What I can say is this is a delightful romp from start to finish, with colourful characters and great staging; Ashley Cousins’ Ben and Gilly Tompkins’ Granny being stand out (special mention to Devesh Kishore’s Raj and Benedict Martin’s Mr Parker). The energy never dropped and the laughs came thick and fast. Much like a good panto, the little ones and adults alike, were suitably entertained.
The set was a veritable Mary Poppins bag. This is probably the best use of staging I have seen in a long while, with beds, seats and other necessaries popping, sliding and flicking out of unexpected places to create the different environs. The set changes were as entertaining as the show. My young person could not stop going on about them afterwards, and loved it just as much as any of the scenes.
The underlying message at the heart of the story was not saccharine nor did it stray across the line and become preachy, but was not lost on either of us. Gangsta Granny has the right balance of seriousness and levity, and was a bit of an emotional journey (I think I saw a tear in someone’s eye – not mine, that was just a spec of dust).
Gangsta Granny straddled the line between adult and children’s entertainment with aplomb. It was a delightful (and I am told), faithful adaptation, which like any good story uses humour to adeptly deliver a powerful message. In fact, that reminds me, I need to call my mum now…