Following the success of Gangsta Granny, Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of another bestselling childrens’ novel by David Walliams is at MK Theatre this week.
The show opens with 12 year old Stella Saxby (Georgina Leonidas) waking from a coma to discover that her parents have died and she is now in the care of her Aunt Alberta (Timothy Speyer). But Stella quickly discovers that her aunt is now all she seems and she has to call on the help of friendly chimney sweep ghost Soot (Ashley Cousins) to uncover the truth and escape from the clutches of her awful auntie.
If you’re taking your kids to see this show, you might be expecting to endure rather than enjoy this show, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot for adults to enjoy as well. Of course, the kids will absolutely love this show which doesn’t talk down to them, or rely on cheap laughs but has plenty of action to keep their attention.
The multi-level revolving sets which represented the towers of Saxby Hall, constant incidental music and some very clever visual effects are perfectly executed. There’s some unsettling moments including a disturbing torture scene and a brilliant ‘Home Alone-esque’ sequence of carefully set up pranks befalling a character.
Georgina Leonidas is fantastic as Stella, putting 100% of her energy into the performance. Timothy Speyer steals the show as Aunt Alberta, playing the role with some clear Walliams-influences in his falsetto ‘lady’ delivery. The puppetry of Wagner the owl is brilliantly realised by Roberta Bellekom.
While Gangsta Granny was maybe a little over-emotional at times for small kids, this show somehow manages to completely avoid any sort of emotion despite the central character losing her parents.
This is a great show which really is ‘for all the family’ and will give everyone an entertaining night out.