Wednesday 15 March 2017

Gangsta Granny Live on Stage! - Preston Guild Hall

On Wednesday night we took Luke and Charlie Preston Guild Hall to see Gangsta Granny. The popular children's book, written by David Walliams, has now been transformed by Neal Foster into a stage show and is performed by the Birmingham Stage Company. We saw another another of their productions, Horrible Christmas last year which was excellent so we were all looking forward to another great show. 

Luke and Charlie were both very excited as they both love David Walliams’s books and Luke has read them all. We read Gangsta Granny last year as a bedtime story and where I would normally only read one chapter there were nights when we read two as the story was so good! 

The show is obviously very popular; I was quite surprised to see a full theatre on a Wednesday evening and there was a mix of families, a school group and Brownies. We saw a few people from Luke's class too.  

The story is about a boy called Ben who dreads Friday evenings as he is sent to Granny’s house whilst his parents go ballroom dancing. Granny is your stereotypical old woman, curly grey hair, wears a dress, complete with cardigan and cooks nothing but cabbage; Ben is subjected to a weekly game of Scrabble and consequently he hates Friday nights. That is until one night he discovers a hoard of jewels in a biscuit tin and suddenly he sees a different side to Granny and Friday becomes the highlight of his week.

The set was very impressive, incorporating pull out seats and beds and cleverly depicting many different locations. Switching from one location to another was seamless with some of the changes even being done to music.

Ben’s parents, played by Rachel Stanley and Benedict Martin, are both avid dancers and there was lots of dancing in the show. All of the cast were skillful dancers and the Paul Chantry and Rae Piper's choreography was excellent. 

During the interval Raj, the local shopkeeper, played expertly by Devesh Kishore, wandered around the theatre trying to promote his ice creams with a selection of buy 500 get one free offers! Luke's friends Matt and Ritchie, who were in the audience, were keen to buy off Raj! All the children in the audience loved the interaction and it helped keep everyone entertained during the break.

At times, especially during the dance competition, the atmosphere was more like that of a pantomime with cheering and booing aplenty. Mum and Dad came off stage during the dance competition and sat in front of us, much to the delight of the girl behind us who was so excited to see them. They helped encourage the audience to get into the spirit of the dance competition and cheer for Ben, which added to the fun of the night.

One thing that really made everyone laugh out loud were the fantastic sound effects; Granny only ever seems to eat cabbage which has an unfortunate but hilarious side effect. As you would expect Luke and Charlie loved this and were in stitches every time she farted. 
Another bit the boys especially liked was Granny tearing down the motorway on her mobility scooter!

Ashley Cousins who played Ben was outstanding, his portrayal of an 11 year old boy was very convincing and his robotic dancing had the boys in stitches. For us, Gilly Tompkins was the star of the show, transforming from boring Granny to international jewel thief effortlessly.

We all really enjoyed the show and had a great time, we didn’t stop laughing all night and the boys said it was the best play they had ever seen!  I would definitely recommend that you try to see the show if you can, it is running at Preston Guild Hall until Sunday 12th March.

We received 4 tickets for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are our own.

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