A Big Friendly Giant of a show!
It is a miracle that so soon after the magnificent ‘Camelot’, KickstArt Productions are able to come up with anything half as elaborate and ambitious as Roald Dahl’s ‘the BFG’. Part of the reason is that this production has been designed and directed by Greg King, leaving his partner Steven Stead to emerge from Camelot in time to design the costumes. Another reason is that KickstArt are good at miracles.
The curtain doesn’t go up at the start. The opening scene is in place as the audience takes their seats, with policemen and a double-decker bus cruising freely, and Sophie (Belinda Henwood) slumbering on a bed. When the show starts she wakes to hear the Big Friendly Giant wandering around on his nightly dream distribution, and we see Brian Hiles as the non-puppet version of BFG. Thereafter the giant effect is amusingly achieved by alternating large puppets as giants with normal-sized humans, or tiny puppets as humans with the normal humans as giants.
The sets are, as usual, amazing, with props and puppets designed by Wendy Henstock. Greg King confined himself to construction, this time. The acting and timing work wonderfully, and scenes that particularly appealed were the ones with Claire Mortimer as a convincing Queen Elizabeth II, Lyle Buxton as head of the Army, and a new talent in Mpilo “Straw” Nzimanze as head of the Airforce (and Mr Tibbs). Their reactions to being introduced to BFG and to the Queen’s corgi (a convincing puppet) are delightful.
Daisy Spencer is most amusing as Mary the maid — I loved the scene where she drinks the Queen’s tea in a moment of stress. The goblins are perfect for giving the younger (or, in fact, all) members of the audience a good fright and an aversion to being eaten by them.
Running from 21st June to 8th July, this show is perfect July Holidays entertainment for the whole family and the kids in particular. There are a couple of pantomime-type occasions to keep their interest, but I don’t think it really needs them to do that.
There was another much-deserved standing ovation.