The BFG at the Octagon Theatre Bolton Review

Octagon Theatre, Bolton

13 November to 9 January 2016


Reviewed by Jo Flaherty

The BFG, (Big Friendly Giant), is one of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novels, and reportedly Dahl’s own favourite character – and it’s easy to see why.

In the cosy comfort of Bolton’s Octagon Theatre, five beds sit on stage, awaiting five sleepy heads. The beds belong to Sophie and her fellow residents at the despicable Mrs Clonkers’ Orphanage and we are soon transported into Sophie’s world. Miserable in the orphanage, Sophie struggles to sleep and when she glimpses a looming figure in the darkness of the night she’s drawn into the adventure of a lifetime.

The tale unfolds on stage as the characters from the book are brought to life. The BFG is brilliantly played by John Seaward who captures the BFG’s mindboggling vernacular in the most phizz-whizzing way! Sophie is played alternately by Macy Nyman and her doll; doll-Sophie is brought in to illustrate the enormousness of the Big Friendly Giant, although I think nothing would have been lost if Sophie had been in human form throughout. It felt as though no space was wasted, with a kind of mezzanine stage above the main stage – there was plenty to feast your eyes on, and the children in the audience were totally engaged.

Despite being firmly a children’s production, this was in no way too low-brow for the adults in the audience. Dahl has a fantastic way of not condescending to his young audience and this bears out under Sarah Esdaile’s direction, giving plenty for all ages to enjoy.

The Octagon is a perfect venue for this kind of production; it’s perfectly intimate so you really feel drawn into the performance, without being too small. Having never been to the Octagon Theatre before, I was pleasantly surprised and I will definitely be looking out for future productions; I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house.

The BFG continues its run at the Octagon Theatre until 9th January and would be the perfect show to see if you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional panto.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £9.50 to £23 (booking fees may apply).

The BFG is at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton until 9 January 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01204 520661.

Octagon Theatre. Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB | 01204 520661


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