Reviewed by Louise Watts (and children!)
Who would have thought when we were first introduced to David Walliams in Little Britain, that he had the talent to become one of British children’s favourite authors? David has been compared to Roald Dahl of late as has recently been awarded an OBE by the Queen.
One of his most successful stories is “Gangsta Granny” which has also been made into a film starring David himself and is now a very successful touring stage show from the Birmingham Stage Company. I had the pleasure of taking my 4 children to see this at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells yesterday evening (21 June 2017). My 8-year-old is a true David Walliams fan and has read all of his books and my other children aged 14, 12 and 3 came along to enjoy the theatre experience.
Gangsta Granny is a story based around an 11-year-old boy called Ben and his Grandma. Ben’s parents go out every Friday night ballroom dancing and Ben is sent to stay with his Grandma who has a love for cabbage! Ben is at the age where he sees his Grandma as a boring old lady and dreads every Friday night. Ben is a lad with a dream of becoming a plumber but his parents have other ideas and would much rather see him enter the field of ballroom dancing and succeed where they failed.
One day Ben’s Grandma overhears Ben telling his parents he wants to come home as he is bored and hates being at Grandma’s. The next time Ben visits, he finds a hoard of jewels and Grandma tells him stories of how she stole them when she was younger. All of a sudden, Ben can’t get enough of seeing his Grandma because she is really cool and a “Gangsta”. He decides that both of them need to do a heist together and they hatch this amazing plan to steal the crown jewels. The plan goes ahead with a few complications which provide lots of entertainment for the audience!
By the end of the story Ben has realised that just because someone is old, does not mean that they are boring! He has learnt a very valuable lesson in life, but is it a lesson learnt too late?
The show is absolutely hilarious with Grandma producing the most amazing bottom burps, Ben suffering the pains of growing up but Grandma still treating him like a baby and the pair of them racing across the stage on a mobility scooter! We were laughing out loud throughout the whole performance.
The highlight for me has to be the “Gangsta Rap” performed by Ben and Granny – I was literally bursting with laughter! The set is incredibly clever and versatile. It is in the form of 3 mini sets which seem to be able to transform into just about anything in the blink of an eye – extremely well designed and looked perfect. When the set is adapted, this is carried out by some of the cast members in the form of a dance which I think worked really well
Costumes were brilliant – Granny’s outfit was so good she looked like a Granny despite the fact I know she is far from the age of a Grandma! Some of the dancing outfits were just hilarious, including the tree and the quality streets.
The whole show was amazing and the cast were absolutely outstanding. All of my children (and me) enjoyed it very much and the kids were all buzzing afterwards saying how good it was and comparing their favourite bits. I would thoroughly recommend this to families with children of all ages as it is a lovely story with a really subtle but profound moral underpinning.
The Assembly Hall Theatre was welcoming and well equipped as usual. There was a stall selling merchandise, the bar was open for drinks and snacks and there was also a snack bar selling soft drinks and nibbles. Parking was easy in the multi storey car park next door. The prices have increased since my last visit and it cost me the whole sum of £1.50 to park there all evening!
Overall, I think the show was absolutely amazing and all my kids were trying to guess on their way home what their Nanny’s secrets might be!!
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £18.50 (booking fees may apply).
Gangsta Granny is at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells from 21-25 June 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01892 530613.
Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU | 01892 530613