Review: Awful Auntie, New Theatre, Cardiff
Awful Auntie is the latest David Walliams book to have its colourful cartoon like characters brought vividly to life om stage,
The Birmingham Stage Company presentation tells the story of Stella, who, when setting off to London with her parents, wakes up from a coma three months later, covered in bandages.
Only her psychotic, pipe smoking, opera singing Aunt Alberta can tell Stella what has happened. Sadly Alberta is also incredibly deranged and has sinister intentions towards Stella, who quickly discovers she’s in for the fight of her life against her very own awful Auntie!
Awful Auntie's storyline is a wonderful mix of both comedy and drama with a fabulous collection of characters to drive the plot along.
Set in Stella's home of Saxby Hall, the set is made up of four pointers which can rotate to change the scene from a cellar to a garage to an en suite bedroom, while enabling the cast to keep the storyline moving at an exciting pace moving from staircases to secret passages.
The stage presentation of Awful Auntie combines the shadowy atmospherics of an Ealing comedy, with Hammer Horror overtones but with surreal comic elements of Roald Dahl and Monty Python thrown in for good measure.
The production itself is seamless and imaginative, never afraid to present some of the greatest storytelling gimmicks from a motorcycle - car chase, via an electrified bird cage doubling as a torture chamber, to large scale escape sequences involving the use of puppets.
Timothy Speyer is the ghastly Aunt Alberta, a caricatured baddie if ever there was one but also gets a lot of laughs along the way.
Georgina Leonidas is delightful as the young heroine of the piece, Stella, and more than capable of delivering the occasional scream when required.
Ashley Cousins is Stella's ghostly friend, Soot, who is frequently on hand to save our heroine from the clutches of her awful aunt, but similarly facing his own nemesis in the might of Wagner, the owl, puppeteered to perfection by Roberta Bellekom.
Adding extra laughs to the mix is Richard James as the Saxby house servant, Gibbon, whose actions vary from vacuuming with a lawn mower to taking a tiger rug for a walk,.
Judging by the constant laughter from grown ups and children alike, I can only conclude that Awful Auntie is awfully awesome and highly recommend this production if you're a fan of the book or indeed classic comedy!
- Awful Auntie runs at Cardiff's New Theatre until May 13.