by Dave Massey twitter.com/brumhour
Awful Auntie at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
This half term, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, is home to Awful Auntie. Birmingham Stage Company’s second adaption of a David Walliams’ novel. There’s lots to love about this warm fun production.
December 1933: Stella (Georgina Leonidas) wakes up in bed one day to discover that she can’t move, and she’s no real memory of why she is there. Stella is living in her family’s old, huge mansion. There’s a mystery to solve and the only people around are: a manservant Gibbon (Richard James) and a three foot tall owl called Wagner (handled by Roberta Bellekom). Oh, and her scary Auntie Alberta (Timothy Speyer).
Auntie Alberta is truly an awful aunt. Timothy Speyer stomps around the stage, larger than life. Auntie says things which appear nice on the surface but with threat in their tone. In contrast, Stella is much more of a warm honest, but confused and lost twelve year old, who is about to turn thirteen.
The play itself is a big treat for kids and adults that are big kids at heart. As you’d expect from a production aimed at a younger audience, there are many jokes about farting or burping. Like with panto this is normally the first type of theatre kids experience.
The set mainly consists of four rotating cylinders which become stairs, chimneys, front doors and even.. I won’t spoil it for you. But this an electrifying experience. The first half lasted just over 45 minutes so it was just 7.45 when the interval started and the second half is a little longer.
Normally, at family theatre, there is a chance for redemption of naughty characters, but not here. This is David Walliam’s own Roald Dahl-esque story telling. I’m not sure how children play ing tricks on mean adults is acceptable, but it was fun to see and justified within the Walliam’s world.
One character I’ve not yet mentioned is Soot played by Ashley Cousins and I can’t tell you how Soot fits into the story without giving more of the story away. Ashley Cousins is endearing in this role and the kids really seemed to warm to him.
Things to look out for: a half-size car which actually drives around on stage, a bike, puppets and Wagner the owl.
I found myself falling further and further into the Walliam’s world and I’m excited to see what the Birmingham Stage Company will do next!
Awful Auntie is Live on Stage at Belgrade Theatre until 24th February. Book Tickets here: belgrade.co.uk/event/awful-auntie
This isn’t a sponsored post and #BrumHour has not been bribed by the promise of a free holiday in a mansion to write nice things about Awful Auntie.. Honest!
Thanks to Belgrade Theatre for inviting #BrumHour.