Dream-blowing and whizz-popping wundercrump!
When the magician canâ€™t come to Sophieâ€™s birthday party, she and her friends, roping in mum and dad, decide to act out Sophieâ€™s favourite story book instead.Â It just happens to be The BFG â€“ Big Friendly Giant â€“ who snatches little orphan Sophie from her bedroom and takes her to Giant Country.
In this production, David Woodâ€™s adaptation of Roald Dahlâ€™s original childrenâ€™s novel, is cleverly directed by Andrew Panton. Telling the story within a story, facilitates movement between such different places as Giant Land and Buckingham Palace, and accommodates a 24 foot tall giant though thankfully, one that eats snozzcumbers and not â€˜human beansâ€™.Â It also emphasises the grotesque fun, rather than the more sinister, dark side of Dahlâ€™s book, which will have an audience divided but certainly makes for great festive, family entertainment. After all, with bubbles galore floating out over the audience, the BFG flying up and away, and the, um, â€˜whizz-poppingâ€™ flatulent rendition of The Blue Danube and the William Tell Overture, there is surely something for everyone.
Lewis Howden is a very engaging and â€“ as you might expect â€“ larger than life, BFG, with an oddly endearing sing-song accent that suits Roald Dahlâ€™s fantastically fictitious language. With Robyn Milne as Sophie, who ably switches between actor and puppeteer, they lead a strong and versatile cast of eight, who play their multi-roles with aplomb.Â Behind them, Becky Mintoâ€™s set design makes the show.Â Unashamedly more CBeebies than the Quentin Blake original drawings, it is a central rotating house that doubles as Sophieâ€™s bedroom and a dollsâ€™ house, as Buckingham Palace and the ingenious backdrop of three giant-catching helicoptersâ€¦Â It also means that the BFG, played by Sophieâ€™s dad in the first act, can believably appear as a full-size puppet later on.
The audience (truly eclectic: on one side of us, grandparents with primary-aged children, behind us, an all-female office outing) loved it.Â My cautious, not-yet-5-year-old companion, who said he would keep his eyes closed during all the scary bits â€“ he shut them, momentarily when the likes of Fleshlumpeater, Bonecruncher and Childchewer â€˜cackled too loudlyâ€™ â€“ was bouncing in his seat, asking if we could see it again.
This is, quite refreshingly, not a Christmas production but it is sparkling and musical, and the medley of seasonal songs and carols at the end add just the right touch of festive spirit.
Star Rating ****
Recommended for ages 5+
From 28th November to 3rd January at the Royal Lyceum Theatre
Box Office phone number 0131 248 4848 or Â book online at Â www.lyceum.org.uk