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Gangsta Granny review at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – ‘ingenious and lively’

The cast of Gangsta Granny at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham. Photo: Mark Douet

David Walliams’ bestseller easily makes the transition from novel to stage in this lively production by Birmingham Stage Company. Adapted and directed by BSC actor/manager Neal Foster, it retains all the fun and humour of the book while also ensuring edits keep the story moving at a rapid pace with plenty of action.

Jacqueline Trousdale’s design is ingenious, allowing the tale to move seamlessly between scenes. In some cases the scenery is detailed, for instance, Granny’s kitchen where her collection of kitsch is typical of any grannies. At others something as simple as a rat crossing the floor takes us to the sewers under London.

There’s a strong moral message to youngsters to respect and listen to their elders but it’s not delivered in a preaching manner. Rather there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments from a dancing Queen through to near-naked yoga.
Gilly Tompkins is excellent as Granny, who is secretly a jewel thief, and Ashley Cousins is endearing as her grandson Ben. There is also a fantastic performance from Louise Bailey as the Queen.

BSC has built up a strong reputation for children’s theatre with successful adaptations of Roald Dahl favourites and Horrible Histories. With Walliams one of the top authors for children today, this collaboration is a natural step for the stage company.

After Birmingham, the show tours until January 2017 and will no doubt be hugely successful over the coming months. It will also be interesting to see whether BSC go on to adapt more of Walliams’ fiction in the future.

Verdict
Birmingham Stage Company creates an ingenious and lively adaptation of David Walliams’ bestseller

Production Information

Venue
New Alexandra Theatre
City
Birmingham
Starts
December 7, 2015
Ends
December 12, 2015, then touring until January 2017
Press night
December 7, 2015
Authors
David Walliams
Adaptation
Neal Foster
Composer
Jak Poore
Director
Neal Foster
Choreographer
Paul Chantry, Rae Piper
Set
Jacqueline Trousdale
Lighting
Jason Taylor
Sound
Nick Sagar
Costume
Jacqueline Trousdale
Technical
Amy Compton (costume supervisor), Millie Else (design assistant /wardrobe), Alison Fitzjohn (resident director), Hayley Gibbs (props), Judith Barrow, John Blunden (deputy stage managers), Emily Irish, Mike Groves (technical asst stage managers), Matt Gibson (sound operator)
Stage manager
Nicola Turner
Production manager
Adrian Littlejohns
Cast includes
Ashley Cousins, Louise Bailey, Benedict Martin, Gilly Tompkins, Umar Malik, Alison Fitzjohn
Producer
Birmingham Stage Company
Running time
2hrs 15mins