Reviewed by J Wright
Gangsta Granny is a well known novel for children written by the talented David Walliams and it’s been popular ever since 2011 when it was published. Now the Birmingham Stage Company have created a theatre performance which is currently touring the UK and you can see it now in Sheffield at the fabulous Lyceum Theatre. I took my son to see the show, he’s 8 and to be contrary he just isn’t into any of David Walliam’s books. I was confident he’d enjoy the show and so off we went.
The set on stage was a curiosity which I could tell was going to be interesting and it was, it’s a collection of dynamic revolving pieces which pull out, turn around and light up to create all the locations of the performance, Granny’s house, Ben’s bedroom, a hospital, a street. You name it, they’ve created it. It’s a brilliant and clever design.
Justin Davies is energetic in the role of Ben, grandson and aspiring plumber, bored of Granny and her cabbage based meals. Isabel Ford is a fabulous Granny, epitomising all the stereotypes society and literature has ever had about grannies in general. In the story Granny is keen to show Ben she’s not the dull old thing he thinks she is and they’re out for one last adventure, through the sewers of London, encountering police and guards along the way to steal the Crown Jewels. There’s plenty of one-liners, physical comedy and comic performance to keep anyone interested, along with the toilet humour which tickles the primary school kids at least.
I equally liked and disliked Jason Furnival in the roles of Dad and Mr Parker. As Mr Parker he’s a nosy, intrusive, annoying and repellent character and he does it so well. The audience respond to him along with Ben and we can’t help but get caught up in the concept of this irritating neighbourhood watch obsessed caricature.
Our performance had cast replacement with Sophie Gibbs in the role of Mum and Mared Lewis as The Queen, both elegant and professional.
There are some brief moments of pathos but handled well and not dwelled upon which allows some of the younger kids to bypass it. I really liked how this was handled given the last two years.
There’s a little of a panto atmosphere as the cast of The Birmingham Stage Company interact with the audience and the kids can shout back and boo the bad guys, cheering for the best moments of success too. Any age child is likely to enjoy the mad cap, high energy and high colour performance of Gangsta Granny and the clap-along-dance-along ending is a mood boosting fun moment for all the younger kids.
If you’re parking in The Cheese Grater car park, as it’s known locally, don’t forget to collect a ticket for discounted parking whilst at the Lyceum box office.
The show begins at 7pm and runs at just over two hours with a short interval, reasonable for the target audience and not too late for bedtime.
My son, Mr Contrary, laughed and giggled throughout the show, responded to the participation moments and really engaged with the story. We talked about it all the way home and he couldn’t wait to go to school and tell everyone about it today. I think he might be David Walliams newest fan. Converted!
This would be a wonderful night out for the family and some tickets (£15-£25.50) are still available at the time of writing and until 22nd January 2022. I really recommend it.
To book tickets visit https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/gangsta-granny/dates or phone the box office on 0114 249 6000