Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The BFG - The Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

The BFG by Roald Dahl
Adaptor: David Wood
Directed by Phil Clark
Reviewer: Stephanie Rowe

Roald Dahl’s wacky giant-speak of whizzpopping (flatulence) caused by frogscottle (a fizzy drink where the bubbles go down instead of up) and snozzcumbers (nasty-tasting vegetables) thrilled the younger members of the audience, and certainly entertained the more mature members as well. There will certainly be a revival of nonsensical words being spoken after this show, and why not. The show is fun from beginning to end and keeps every audience member highly amused.

The BFG, a well known children’s story written by Roald Dahl starts at Sophie’s birthday party, all her friends are there having fun, when her brother gives her a book as a present, the book is of course The BFG, thus starts the tale of how Sophie is snitched by the giant after he spots her watching him, he snaffles her away to giant land, then has to protect her from the other children eating giants. The BFG, works as a dream catcher and it is through his job that Sophie and himself work together to save the children of the world.

This fantastic well written, well directed show, kept up its fast moving action and musical interludes, and not once do you feel let down by the actors performances or the way the show has been directed. The use of puppets and a dolls house help to portray the difference in size between Sophie and the giant. The backdrop of a full moon is simple but atmospheric while the giant’s colourful dream-catching bottles provide the best of the special effects, along with breakfast at Buckingham Palace, the one time the giant is portrayed in enormous form.
“The funniest bit of the show” according to Phoebe aged 8 was when the Giant whizzpops in front of The Queen of England. One scene, in which the unfriendly giants in Halloween-style headgear bite the head off a rag doll, and tear the arms and legs from others is a little close to the bone and I could hear the children in the audience all draw in a deep gasping breath.

The two leads, Anthony Pedley as The BFG, and Becky John as Sophie, attack their parts with great energy and gusto, and gel together from the start, giving a memorable and outstanding performance. The rest of the cast all add their own individuality to their roles and make each character stand out (which can be difficult when playing multiple parts.)

It is not easy to adapt books for stage it can often be a tricky business. Where with a little imagination playwrights and directors can bring any prose to life, they are frequently left with a headache as to how to bring the impossible to the stage. The central problem is that of scale – how to depict a giant playing amongst ‘humans’. With sets and costumes by Sean Crowley and sound and lighting by Mike Beer and Ceri James, direction by Phil Clark, it is a quandary that this team solve with great vigour and panache.
This show is a hit and though I would not take a toddler along, it is a family show for 6 to 106 year olds, where everyone will have fun, laughter and maybe even a few tears.

Runs until Sat 7th Nov
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