Birmingham and Touring
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH: Roald Dahl, adapted by David Wood
Runs: 1h 45m, one interval
Birmingham Old Rep till Feb 2013, then touring
Review: Alexander Ray, 25.11.12
Lively performance from a strong ensemble.
Nicolai Foster’s production of John Wood’s adaptation is a lively affair. Wood and Foster capture Dahl’s irreverent, childlike humour as well as his sense of wonder. In Colin Richmond’s economical settings (I particularly like the turning peach itself) children are in for a memorable treat.
The production works on several levels. On one, older children will enjoy watching a story they love vividly brought to life, on another, the youngest children, who may or may not wonder what’s going on, from time to time, will have plenty of memories (many of them visual) to take away and talk about afterwards.
The team employ a range of story-telling techniques – direct address, singing, puppets, props; these enrich the experience. In not hiding the magic (we hear the ‘peach’ being inflated for instance) theatre’s ability to offer it’s own magic is brought to the fore; what a great gift to be giving to children. The exiting events happen in the acting space; the spectacular events happen in your own imagination!
The multi-talented company, who sing, dance and play musical instruments as well as act, bounce through the show with great energy and charm, working as a strong ensemble. Characterisations are both broad and subtle, grabbing the children’s attention and holding it.
Tom Gillies is marvellous as James; his natural, unfussy, manner enables him to become a perfect bridge into the world in which giant peaches can exist and horrible aunties (however beautifully created by Claire Greenway and Sioned Saunders) can be squashed.
James: Tom Gillies
Centipede: Chris Lindon
Earthworm: Rhys Saunders
Grasshopper: Iwan Tudor
Ladybird: Claire Greenway
Spider: Sioned Saunders
Tour Guide: Giovanna Ryan
TV Reporter: Oliver Lynes
Director: Nikolai Foster
Designer: Colin richmond
Composer: Grant Olding
Choreographer: Drew McOnie
Lighting: James Whiteside
Sound: Sebastian Frost
Puppets: Rachel Canning
Casting Director: Kay Magson