Danny the Champion of the World

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Continuing its pedigree for charming alternatives to the traditional pantomime and marking 21 entertaining years, Brentwood Theatre celebrates its coming-of-age with one of Roald Dahl’s classics.

Director Ray Howes makes a welcome Brentwood return with his fourth festive production at the helm, a delightful stage adaptation of a Dahl gem, which next year marks 40 years since the 1975 original.

As ever, David Zelly works wonders within this intimate theatre, encapsulated by a cosy rotating caravan and adjoining filing station, complete with quaint mobile Austin Seven.

Defying the inevitable age gap, the sunny disposition of Porl Matthews brings a youthful innocence to Danny, fuelled by hope and determination.

Perfecting the reassuring father figure of Danny’s wise yet protective Dad William, Jackson Pentland’s poignant interactions with Matthews prove continuously endearing.

Thriving in his Alan Rickman-esque villainous demeanour, Lee White is deliciously dastardly as affluent landowner Mr Hazell, with a pompous sneer and sharp tongue.

Further commendable performances include Allen Watts as Hazell’s brutish entourage and Elka Lee-Green, making a commendable professional debut.

Woods’ adaptation boldly steers clear of Brentwood Theatre’s usual all-singing, all-dancing affair, culminating in a sentimental end product.

Verdict: Striking a child-friendly chord, this is a gentle and heartwarming introduction to the world of festive theatre

Nick Dines

  • Brentwood Theatre, Essex
  • December 8-January 3 2015, PN December 13
  • Authors: Roald Dahl, David Wood adaptation
  • Director: Ray Howes
  • Design: David Zelly set, Ben Clark sound, Paul Williams lighting, Lynne Trubridge costume
  • Technical: David Zelly stage manager, Peter Taylor deputy stage manager, Sue Stewart project manager, Sarah O’Sullivan assistant director, John Gadd assistant director and costume, Luke Jackson lighting technician, Steve Bearpark audio visual assistant
  • Cast: Joelle Campbell, Elka Lee-Green, Porl Matthews, Jackson Pentland, Abi Taylor Jones, Allen Watts
  • Producer: Brentwood Theatre Company
  • Running time: 2hrs 5mins