Tuesday, 15 March 2016

"Gangsta Granny" by David Walliams
Nottingham Theatre Royal

David Walliams is one of Britain's best loved comedy actors and his quirky sense of humour has also made him a best selling author of eleven children's books; one of them being "Gangsta Granny".

While being a funny play, as with all the best plays that are humorous, it also gives out a serious message and here it's to not take the elderly for granted. Ben is Granny's Grandson and he stays with her on Friday nights because his "Strictly" loving parents have their dance classes on that night, Ben hates staying overnight with his cabbage loving gran and practically begs his parents to come and fetch him, which they refuse to do. It's while on an unplanned visit that he discovers that his gran has a secret, and isn't quite as boring as he first thought!

Although the play is aimed towards the younger audience, this is one of those magical plays that appeals to all ages. It has a good story, albeit with some sadness towards the end, which also gives the message that you can follow your dreams, however simple those dreams may be, and not bow down to what other people want you to be, so there are several grown up sideline themes to the play.

Ben is played by Ashley Cousins. Very animated and with brilliant timing for comedy for one so young, but he has credible CV built up already and is going to make a wonderfully versatile adult actor.

Laura Girling and Benedict Martin as his parents who want him to be the next "Strictly" star, a far cry from what Ben wants. Benedict also plays the neighbourhood watch man Mr Parker. This character is as close as you'll get to David Walliams taking on one of these roles and you can recognise the Walliams' characteristic in this role.

Granny, played by Gilly Tompkins, is  a dream to watch as the ninja gangsta pensioner with the love of everything cabbage infused, which has obvious drawbacks, or is that blow backs!

There are several minor characters who work hard doubling up as other characters, and a special mention to Alison Fitzjohn who plays just about all the other female characters, apart from The Queen (Louise Bailey), who also makes an appearance towards the end of the play, confessing that, as a gran herself, her Grandsons also find her a little boring. Well I never!

Umar Malik and Richard James are the other two actors with the many costume and character changes.

The secret of the massive impact this play has is in the lighting of then play and the timing of the lighting, designed by Jason Taylor, is perfect. giving the play the maximum impact. Good sound, thanks to Nick Sagar, and the choreography for the entertaining scene changes is by Paul Chantry and Rae Piper.

The set, designed by Jacqueline Trousdale, is very cleverly thought out with all sets folding in and out of three tower blocks. With the way the design of this worked, it reminded me a little of "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In the Night Time".

Directed by Neal Foster, this is a lovely piece of theatre for all ages and David Walliams knows how to write a good tale which keeps everyone watching, and reading of course.

"Gangsta Granny" is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 19 March 2016. Use your kids as an excuse to go and see it. they'll love you for it.

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