By Mary Rahma :: What a welcome addition to the children’s theatre world is comedy drama Gangsta Granny superbly written book by Britain’s most popular comic actors and now a best-selling author in the world of children’s literature- David Walliams.
Ben hates spending time with his boring granny while his parents are off ballroom dancing. Little does he know that his granny has a secret which will see them going on an adventure and becoming the best of friends.
Granny is bought alive with humour, energy and vigour and an exceptional performance by Gilly Tompkins ( A Cloud in Trousers, Talking Heads) who was inspired by the wonderful memories of her own Grannies ‘Big Nanny’ and ‘Little Nan’. Ashley Cousins ( Billy Elliot, Lord Dismiss Us) plays the hapless Ben with astute timing and an enjoyable performance which connects with the young audience. The relationship that grows between Granny and Ben is sweet, soft and sentimental and when it is time for them to part- you genuinely have a tear in your eye.
The ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ interludes-masterfully performed by Rachel Stanley ( My Fair Lady, 42nd Street) and Benedict Martin ( Romeo and Juliet, Othello) , although camp and comical- seem too tedious by the end of the show, serving mainly to remind the audience that Ben’s destiny lies in plumbing and not the dancefloor. Devesh Kishore ( Child of the Divide, The Merchant of Venice) shows marvelous range playing the exuberant dancer Flavio to the loveable newsagent Raj- the local newsagent who has everything to sell….at a discount!
Gangsta Granny is magical, heartwarming and carries a beautiful message for old and young alike, told quite simply: ‘Be kind to old people’. As a parent you are ever so grateful to have found a witty and clever story that ensures your own kids want to spend more time at their grandparents- ‘they might have secrets too!’. Adapter and Director Neal Foster and the Birmingham Stage Company should be commended on bringing such a wonderful adaption to the Garrick Theatre in London. It’s funny, smart and full of colour, tricks, escapades and laughs. My 8 year old was on the edge of her seat wide eyed and quietly chuckling at all the naughty jokes and upon leaving the theatre expressed a desire to spend more time with her ailing grandma. Job done Gangster Granny!
Gangsta Granny plays at the Garrick Theatre, London until 2nd Sep.To book tix: www.nimaxtheatres.com
Photo by Mark Douet