Birmingham Stage Company

Gangsta Granny continues to cause a storm in Southampton!

1 April 2016

It would be criminal to miss it!

By Hilary Porter

The hilarious yet touching first ever stage adaptation of Gangsta Granny does full justice to David Walliams' much loved book.

Brilliantly adapted by Birmingham Stage Company , the acclaimed producers of Horrible Histories, this is an action-packed, fun-filled, laugh-out-loud comedy adventure.

And while it fizzes with light-hearted fun it also carries a thought-provoking moral message as well that may well turn your tears of laughter to tinges of sadness too.

Walliams' best selling tale of the cardigan and floral-dress wearing grandmother with a passion for eating cabbage is a simple, gently cautionary tale in not to judge a book by a cover - or dismiss the elderly as 'old and boring' . Look beyond the mobility scooter and the games of scrabble and our granny illustrates how we are all young at heart free spirits.

The story is told through the eyes of young Ben. Each Friday night whilst his self-obsessed parents go off to ballroom dance and watch Strictly Stars Dancing, Ben is unceremoniously dumped at his grandma's with hardly a word of hello.

There will be cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake and Ben knows one thing for sure – it’s going to be sooooooooo boring! But when Ben discovers some gems in a biscuit tin and realises his Granny has a secret, life becomes much more exciting for both of them.

The show is skilfully and sympathetically adapted and directed by Neal Foster with every opportunity for fun explored . The staging is a delight with colourful sets that repeatedly unfold like a pop-up picture book or an IKEA style advert for space-saving furniture. Jacqueline Trousdale's design includes some great attention to detail as seen in granny's kitchen mixed with simple, quick and effective scene suggestions - such as the creation of water for the Thames scene. Watch out for the dancing cabbage scene too which is a hoot.

There are so many funny moments and funny characters too: from the 'naked yoga' to granny's driving of the scooter.

And there is a marvellous send up of reality TV and the celebrity culture - all the more ironic given that Walliams is a judge on Britain's Got Talent, with 'Flavio Flavioli' clearly recognisable as a caricature from Strictly! Ben's mum is obsessed with him and all he represents- she has keepsakes ranging from Flavio's glittered g-string to his left over pizza crust and athletes' foot powder! Her only thought is for Ben to fulfil her dream of fame while all he wants is to achieve his 'pipe-dream' of becoming a plumber.

The hard-working cast are all top class. Ashley Cousins has completed his A levels but he perfectly captures the 11-year-old Ben who strives to please his elders - right down to his very funny dance scene entering a Junior Strictly competition. Gilly Tomkins as Granny is utterly believable too, skilfully switching from Ben's vision of an 'old' granny to a young one.

I particularly enjoyed Benedict Martin as Mr Parker - the nosy, creepy, leering neighbour who is very David Walliams!

Gangsta Granny is at the Mayflower until Sunday April 3: it would be criminal to miss it!

Back to News