If you love Roald Dahl style books (seriously who doesn’t?!) then you will certainly enjoy reading books by Britains Got Talent judge…David Walliams. One of his many books that David has wrote is Awful Auntie and rather than making the story into a TV Production most of David’s other books, this story was instead turned into a theatrical production.
Awful Auntie is currently on a UK tour and produced by The Birmingham Stage Company. We went along to press night at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon to watch the show. We haven’t got round to reading Awful Auntie yet, so my review is only about the show and not in comparison to the books storyline.
The production of Awful Auntie is based on the best selling children’s book (2014) by comedian and best selling author David Walliams, and is actually David’s seventh book. We have enjoyed his other books and especially the TV adaptions. Other titles include Gangsta Granny, Mr Stink, Ratburger and recently Bad Dad. The style of David Walliams is very similar to Roald Dahl, keeping children entertained ….the more gruesome the better.
Awful Auntie is set in December 1933 and starts with Stella Saxby waking up bandaged from her neck down. Recently awoken from her coma to find both of her wealthy parents have died in a horrific car crash, the newly orphaned character wakes to find her Aunt Alberta has become her guardian. You can guess by the title Awful Auntie, Aunt Alberta is not going to be a pleasant character and is solely after Stella’s inheritance to Saxby Hall.
The character of Aunt Alberta played by Richard James, reminded me of the eccentric Count Olaf from Lemony Snickett. Straight away you notice all of the characters spitting image resemblance to the books illustrations by Tony Ross.
Alberta’s faithful feathered friend, Bavarian Owl Wagner is identical to the books illustration. Wagner was brought to life with the puppetry skills of Roberta Bellekom. The giant owl was Josie’s favourite character, which she is now aspiring to be a puppeteer.
The set helps the production become real, with self rotating pillars to create different rooms. One second you are in the coal room and the next moment you are watching the characters climb over the rooftops. The set which was designed by Jacqueline Trousdale was spectacular to see how something so simple looking, can be so effective.
I personally preferred the second half of Awful Auntie, but Josie throughly enjoyed all of the performance. The first half is more of the introduction of characters and revelation of Aunt Alberta being a possible murderer. The second half is full of adventure as Stella (played by Georgina Leonidas) and cockney ghost Soot (played by Ashley Cousins) try to save Saxby Hall.
You see how masterful the set design is during the second half of the production. Every moments sound effects was all executed at correct timings. There was a lovely moment towards the end which shows a really lovely message that I personally found meaningful.
Awful Auntie Live is on at The Wyvern until Saturday 24th November 2018. The tour continues to The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, then off to Theatre Royal in Plymouth. Finally, over Christmas the show is available to see for a few weeks at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre. Tickets for the rest of the tour can be found online here.
Birmingham Stage Company are back at The Wyvern Theatre in April 2019 showing Horrible Histories. One we are really looking forward to is in November 2019 they are bringing Tom Gates Live On Stage. Josie-Ann has read most of the Tom Gates books and is a huge fan
(Photo Credit: Mark Douet)
Overall we really enjoyed the performance