David Walliams’ colossal success as a children’s novelist (he’s sold more than 4 million to date) may have shocked adults who only know him for his involvement in noughties sketch show Little Britain and his work as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent.
Yet, as evidenced by the hundreds of smiling faces enjoying the stage adaptation of Gangsta Granny at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre last night, his energetic and over-the-top approach to everything he does clearly resonates strongly with young audiences.
Gangsta Granny, his most popular story, follows the tale of an 11-year-old boy who discovers there’s a lot more to his ‘boring’ Granny than meets the eye. Despite always wearing woolly cardigans and feeding him cabbage soup, pie and cake, she’s actually leading a double life as a renowned international jewel thief.
Birmingham Stage Company’s action-packed adaptation of the popular book is infectiously fun – the cast is small, with many of them doubling up their roles, but there’s no denying the laughs are big throughout. Highlights included Granny’s questionable driving and her inability to control her ‘bottom’, both of which provided laugh-out-loud moments for the kids and adults alike. Newcomer Ashley Cousins was fantastic as 11-year-old Ben whilst Gilly Tompkins stole the show as his funny, wise and unpredictable Granny.
Each of the sets were simple yet fittingly bold and colourful, reminiscent of something you would see in a Roald Dahl production, whilst the upbeat music helped set the tone from the get-go.
David Walliams’ style and sense of humour may not be everybody’s cup of tea but, when it’s channelled into storytelling for kids, there’s something unmistakably charming and endearing about it. Gangsta Granny is a silly show with enormous heart – don’t miss it and, whatever you do, don’t forget to visit your Granny on the way home!
Gangsta Granny, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Edinburgh, Wednesday 5 – Sunday 9 October, 7.30pm (matinee performances on selected dates), 0131 529 6000.
Words: Amy Anderson