Review: James and the Giant Peach, The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham
It was perhaps one of our most confusing conversations to date.
‘‘So there’s this little boy called James who lives in a giant peach with some giant insects...’’
‘‘But how can they live inside a peach, Dad?’’
‘‘Well, because it’s a magical peach, that flies in the sky and...’’’
‘‘But how can a peach fly Dad? And where are James’s mummy and daddy?’
‘‘I told you, it’s a magic peach and his mummy and daddy have had an, er, little accident...’’
I spent the car journey into Birmingham trying to give an outline of the Roald Dahl story to my four-year-old son, Ben.
The dark and fantastical tale is of course a children’s classic. Orphaned James lives with the revolting Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spike, who make him work all the time and never let him play with other children.
Then one day he meets an old man who gives him a bag containing powerful magic. When James accidentally spills the bag near an old peach tree, the most incredible things start to happen...
James and the Giant Peach has been wonderfully brought to life by Birmingham Stage Company at The Old Rep, where it runs through Christmas and January.
Both Ben and I were enthralled by this David Wood adaptation which was beautifully staged with colourful and imaginative sets, foot-tapping songs and fantastic choreography.
There were also some unexpected pyrotechnics that brought howls of delight from the children and parents – and a delightful interactive moment with the peach and the audience!
The cast were funny and engaging, showing off their acting, musical and dancing skills with aplomb, as well as some brilliant puppetering.
Special mention to James, alias Tom Gillies, who played our endearing hero to perfection, while the Centipede, aka Chris Lindon, and Iwan Tudor as the Grasshopper were excellent comic turns and obviously quality musicians too.
Yet the saxophone-playing Spider, aka Sioned Saunders, Ladybird, played by the instantly likeable Claire Greenway and Rhys Saunders as the dour Earthworm were also on top form in this five-star family production.
At the end of this near-two hour show the cast left the stage to long and loud applause and waves from cheering parents and children – the best review of all.
• James and the Giant Peach runs until February 2. For tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org