Show review by Julia Pattison: Gangsta Granny at the Grand Opera House, York

Play: Gangsta Granny (Age 7+)

The show had you crying with laughter one minute, then swallowing a lump in your throat; a real credit to the script and a talented cast and crew. Photo submitted
The show had you crying with laughter one minute, then swallowing a lump in your throat; a real credit to the script and a talented cast and crew. Photo submitted

Venue: Grand Opera House, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

I’ve enjoyed many of The Birmingham Stage Company’s productions over the years, particularly their wonderful association with Roald Dahl; James and The Giant Peach bounced into York back in 2014 and was one of many of BSC’s great productions bringing joy and laughter to children and adults alike.

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After a most difficult 18 months they’re bouncing back again on tour, this time with Gangsta Granny, which was nominated for an Olivier Award.

I’ve read quite a few of David Walliams’ books (Grandpa’s Great Escape really touched my heart), and just loved reading his number one bestseller Gangsta Granny, so was keen to see how the story was going to be brought to life on stage. I took along a like-minded friend as my guest.

Roald Dahl has obviously been a big influence on David Walliams; Granny’s cabbage obsession was evidently inspired by Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and there were lots of laugh out moments involving toilet humour and some great gags and slapstick, but equally, many poignant moments focusing on the growing bond between eleven year old Ben (Justin Davies) and his Granny (Isabel Ford).

Jacqueline Trousdale’s versatile set was a star in its own right, with scene changes made into an art form, using imaginative choreography (Paul Chantry and Rae Piper).

Behind all the humour and send up of Strictly Come Dancing (Irfan Damani came into his own as flamboyant Flavio), there was a real message for us all, flagging up chronic loneliness among older people, with Adapter and Director Neal Foster making us all more aware of what elderly people still have to offer, if we take the time to know them better.

Loved Justin Davies’ exuberant portrayal of his character, Ben, he made a very convincing eleven year old.

Jason Furnival nearly stole the show as Neighbourhood Watch Mr (very Nosy) Parker, and Jess Neslin was superb in her role as the Queen who made an unexpected, and entertaining appearance later in the play.

We loved to loathe them too, as they played Ben’s neglectful parents, who luckily saw the error of their ways in the end.

The portrayal crown however, went to Isabel Ford for her fabulous performance as Granny; her sense of comic timing was spot on, and she was never tempted to make Granny a caricature, no mean feat.

There was a wonderful sense of fun and mischief as she and Ben went on their heist on her mobility scooter!

It was a show that had you crying with laughter one minute, then swallowing a lump in your throat; a real credit to the script and a talented cast and crew.