We had the pleasure of attending the press night of the adaptation of David Walliams’ bestselling book, Gangsta Granny, at the Harold Pinter Theatre last night, and boy, did it delight!
The Olivier Award and UK Theatre Award nominated production is an interactive, ‘get up and dance in the aisles’ must-see of a show, with the slickest production values I’ve seen in kids’ theatre to date (with its cinematic style sets, lighting and costume design) but its the emotional pull which rightly stands out the most, both in narrative, direction and the stellar performances of its outstanding ensemble cast.
The loving bond and chemistry which grows between leads Ben (Tom Cawte) and Granny (Louise Bailey) is a joy to behold, and will make you value, or in my case, miss, the grandparents in your life and all their hidden depths and stories of the past.
We laughed, we cried, and frankly, didn’t want to leave last night! If we could have watched it all again as the curtains closed, we would have done. That’s how fun the show, is!
David Walliams is always so self-deprecating and said this about the production, ‘Gangsta Granny is my most popular book so it’s wonderful to see the brilliant BSC’s terrific adaptation back in the West End again. It’s a fantastic, award-winning show – and so much better than the book!’
We were actually lucky enough to work with David Walliams a few months ago and found him to be charming, unsurprisingly funny, but also far more serious than we’d anticipated, in the flesh.
Walliams has sold 23 million copies of his books which have been translated into fifty three languages to boot yet he’s the most humble of creative geniuses you could hope to meet!
Photo credit: imagecomms
I thanked him for inspiring a generation of future writers and for captivating my own kids with his words, and worlds, inspiring them to create imaginative stories of their own (Oliver was recently published himself in Toy Stories, a book featuring school children’s work from the borough) and changing the face of literature for many.
His TV and theatrical adaptations remain true to the characters in his books and this show is ideal for ages 5+, keeping kids big and small entertained throughout.
Alexander, 6, watched wide-eyed, asking me in whispers, several times, if what he was seeing was, ‘real life’. Despite being a regular theatre-goer thanks to this here blog, he struggled to believe his beloved book was vividly coming to life before his very eyes.
At the end of the performance, I asked the kids which moments stood out for them. Without hesitation, Oliver declared, ‘When Gangsta Granny and Ben were jumping in the river, that looked amazing. I wanted to dive right in’.
Xander chimed in, ‘When they opened the box of jewels, and all the farts’.
They both deemed it, the best show they’d seen!
Despite all the farting (even the Queen trumps in the Tower of London), a powerful message underpinned the’ lolz’ (as with all great comedy): reminding us to respect, love and crucially, not dismiss, the elderly in our lives.
Loneliness is crippling the elderly in Britain, and after feeling inspired by the show, we’ve since reached out to Age UK to see how we might be able to help their vital cause.
Thank you Gangsta Granny for the laughter and the tears, and reminding us what matters.
Do go book to watch the show, you’ll lap up every minute!
Gangsta Granny live has been created by Neal Foster and The Birmingham Stage Company. It’s on for 2 weeks in the West End before a national tour.
In addition to this, BSC has been touring Horrible Histories Live on Stage for eleven years throughout the UK, Ireland, Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Other current productions include the centenary tour of George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl.
Gangsta Granny is adapted and directed by Neal Foster, design is by Jackie Trousdale, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Nick Sagar, music by Jak Poore and choreography by Paul Chantry & Rae Piper of Chantry Dance Company.
Theatre photos by Mark Douet.