Review by: Paul Towers, 05 July 2018
David Walliams’ Awful Auntie – adapted by Neal Foster
A Birmingham Stage Company production
DeMontfort Hall 5 – 8th July 2018
“a sure fire winner for the young and young at heart.”
David Walliams, he of Britain’s Got Talent and Little Britain, has garnered a reputation as a successful writer of children’s books. Several, of course, have already been adapted for the stage and Awful Auntie is the latest and probably won’t be the last.
As is customary for a Walliams show this is a battle of evil adult against spunky child. In this case Stella’s evil Aunt Alberta is plotting to take possession of Saxby Hall, burn it down and create an owl museum, an Owlseum, if you will.
Awful Auntie borrows elements from several popular children’s books; Harry Potter and Roald Dahl to start with. This is not to denigrate the book or the show but to acknowledge its antecedents.
While the first half is a little wordy as the scene is set, the second half packs loads of magic and stunts in as Stella turns the tables on Aunt Alberta with the help of Soot, the friendly ghost.
Of course Timothy Speyer as Aunt Alberta, channelling both Walliams himself and Matilda’s Miss Trunchbull, has great fun stealing the show. As Stella, Georgina Leonidas (herself a former cast member of the Harry Potter films as Katie Bell) discharges herself well flying around the stage avoiding her Aunt and keeping up with Soot. Soot, the friendly ghost, is played by Ashley Cousins as a cross between Frank Spencer and Joe Pasquale climbing all over the set in an assured way as he tries to keep Stella out of trouble. The final cast member is Gibbon the butler, played with eccentric charm by Richard James and very reminiscent of David Jason’s doddery old timer. But of course we can’t forget Wagner. Not the composer but a huge owl expertly puppeted by Roberta Bellekorn who saves the day in several ways.
The set was very creatively designed by Jacqueline Trousdale and consisted of four towers which revolved and moved around the stage by remote control to create rooms within Saxby Hall including the cellar.
With lots of smut for the children and a few jokes for the adults this is a sure fire winner for the young and young at heart.
Awful Auntie is on at DeMontfort Hall until Sunday with tickets available on most performances.