Adapted by actor, writer and magician...yes...really...David Wood and directed by Teresa Ludovico (who previously directed the popular version of Philip Pullman’s I Was A Rat) this brand new production of Dahl’s classic The BFG is a pretty much perfect festive family treat.
Telling the story of a young girl called Sophie (named after Dahl’s real life granddaughter who went on to become a model before marrying pocket sized pianist Jamie Cullum), who’s snatched from an orphanage by a giant that delivers dreams to children it’s packed with glorious Dahl stuff and nonsense.
Played by Joshua Manning this particular BFG comes across as part Billy Connolly, part Ali G and part Droog (thanks to Dahl’s marvellously mangled giant’s language) and he manages to make that awkward transition from the scary ogre that initially terrifies Sophie to her friend pretty smoothly. There are a trio of Sophies on offer, ours tonight was Lara Wollington who’s already played the West End lead in another Dahl inspired smash hit, Matilda The Musical. She sang and danced her socks off displaying a level of professionalism, timing and innate charm that could shame some actresses five times her age.
Ludovico sprinkles some Italian sophistication on the whole piece, gently introducing younger members of the audience to a little ballet, opera and acrobatics and thanks to the masked ‘Dark Thing’ characters that drift in and out of Act I, even the tradition of Commedia dell’arte (or that might just be me over thinking things). There’s possibly a hint of surrealism here and there too, less Dahl more Dali if you will, but it’s all cleverly blended in to the action without distracting from what is, after all, just great family fun.
Act II goes straight for the belly laughs with a truly show stealing performance from Mike Goodenough as the Queen of England ably supported by Mei Mac as Pup-Pup the Dog.
They’re worth the price of a ticket on their own. Add some truly giant sized hands and feet and chair rumbling bass for the giant’s footsteps and...er...all the breaking wind sequences (getting you in the mood for sprout season no doubt) and this BFG is a Bloomin’ Flippin’ Great night out!