Theatre review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Leeds Playhouse

First published in The Times, Wednesday November 30 2022

THREE STARS

There is something decidedly un-Christmassy about Roald Dahl’s children’s books, although the author’s sadistic edge would probably have struck a chord with Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. Nonetheless, theatrical versions of his stories are a fixture of the festive season, from David Wood’s enduring adaptations of The BFG and The Twits to the large-scale musical spectacle of Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s Matilda.

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Theatre review: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday March 30 2022

FOUR STARS

Audiences are accustomed to seeing Roald Dahl’s children’s stories on stage. Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were turned into blockbuster musical hits, while David Wood’s faithful adaptations of James and the Giant PeachThe BFG and The Witches are mainstays of the Christmas season.

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Review: Matilda – Edinburgh Playhouse

First published in The Times, Thursday April 4 2019

Four Stars

There is no shortage of stage adaptations of Roald Dahl’s deliciously twisted children’s novels. The playwright David Wood alone has made something of a cottage industry of reworking Dahl’s work for the stage, with some eight adaptations under his belt, including The Witches, The BFG and The Twits.

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Review: James and the Giant Peach – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Friday November 25 2016

Three Stars

If you are going to stage Roald Dahl’s children’s adventure, the big fruit in question had better not be limp and past its best. Fortunately, when it comes to spectacle, Mark Calvert’s production for Northern Stage is both eye-catching and mouth-watering. The opening scene alone features the cast whizzing around the circular stage on scooters, a skipping routine and a basketball display, all set to Jeremy Bradfield’s jazzy live soundtrack.

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Reviews: The Witches – Dundee Rep; Sleeping Betty – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday December 7 2015

The Witches: Three Stars

Sleeping Betty: Three Stars

A Roald Dahl adaptation at Dundee Rep has become as much a staple of the Christmas season as mince pies. This is the third year in a row that the ensemble has staged one of David Wood’s adaptations of the celebrated author’s twisted children’s tales, with a production of George’s Marvellous Medicine already slated for next year.

 

Like George’s potion or the formula developed by the Grand High Witch to turn children into mice, at its best Dahl’s absurdist, somewhat menacing sensibility is a recipe for dark theatrical magic. Jemima Levick’s production of The Witches certainly doesn’t lack pungent set pieces, notably the anarchic hotel dining room sequence, in which the tale’s boy-to-mouse hero (Matthew Forbes) tries to turn the tables on the dastardly coven. The show gains further levity from its use of live music, developed by Gavin Swift and performed live.

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