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Review: David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny at New Theatre, Cardiff

This summer, the New Theatre Cardiff is playing host to some of the best children’s entertainment on offer, with shows planned throughout July and August during the school holidays.

As schools across Wales prepare to shut their doors, the New Theatre is opening theirs with the arrival of Gangsta Granny Live on Stage. The hit West End production is an adaptation by Neal Foster of David Williams’ bestselling story and is renowned with youngsters across the country. If you’ve not read the book, you will no doubt heard of the hit BBC TV series…. and if you haven’t, your children most likely have.

It’s clear to see the major influence from Roald Dahl’s work, Walliams has used characters from Dahl’s many stories to bring his own to life. This fun filled family production really helps children to see that it’s ok to follow your own dreams (in Ben’s case he just wants to be plumber) rather than your parents expectations or in the footsteps. After all, how many dancers does one family need?

The cast of Gangsta Granny at Bloomsbury Theatre in 2021. Credit: Mark Douet

When Friday night comes along, Ben (Justin Davies) knows it only means one thing – staying with Granny (Isabel Ford)! There’s only one thing on the menu….cabbage! 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 what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret – and Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny!

There’s plenty of humour for both adults and children, with the occasional utterance of ‘bum’ guaranteed to get a giggle and a very entertaining alibi from Granny about the merging of the Cling Film Appreciation Society and the Bubblewrap Appreciation Society. The physical comedy by Ford as Granny is played really well, she truly brings the character to life and has you not only feeling for her but with her as well, not an easy task.

The staging designed by Jackie Tousdale is as fun packed as the play with a rotating interlocking slide in, slide out set it clear by the extra fun touches that the crew have worked really hard to make it perfect. But what’s a change of set without a short dance number to help it move along smoothly, it has you wanting to dance along with them or at least consider dance lessons.

The costumes really brought the show together because what’s a dance competition without the glitz and glam of a fancy frock or Granny’s comfortable cardigan. Every detail is perfect.

As with all stories, there are notable morals and underlining themes and Gangsta Granny with all its fun and comedy is no different. In particular, the audience discovers the true meaning of family, friendship and love, and Ben’s journey and joyous time spent with his gran. There is a moment when the mood does change slightly when Granny tries to prepare Ben that she won’t always be around, which you could tell struck a nerve with adult audience members, including ourselves. However, it isn’t long until it changes again and the story returns to an upbeat nature because of Granny’s ambition to steal the Crown Jewels.

If you’re looking for some hilarious family fun, this fabulous treat will no doubt keep your little ones entertained and put a smile on faces young and old (like mine).

Gangsta Granny is produced by the Birmingham Stage Company, one of the world’s toptheatre companies for families. As well as producing all the Horrible Histories shows for the last 16 years, the BSC has staged the smash hit productions of Roald Dahl’s George’s MarvellousMedicine and David Walliams’ Awful Auntie and Billionaire Boy.

David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny is live on stage at the New Theatre Cardiff until Sunday 24th July 2022. To find out more and to book tickets, click here.

Age Recommendation: 5+

Running Time: 2 hours including an interval (Timings are approximate & subject to change)

Tickets from: £17* (*A £3.65 transaction fee may apply to your order)

What’s on the New Theatre, Cardiff

If you’re looking for a way to keep your children entertained this summer, then look no further than the New Theatre Cardiff! Treat them to one of the amazing children’s shows that they have coming up:

  • David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny – Live on Stage (21-24 July 2022)
  • Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales (25-27 July 2022)
  • Dinosaur World Live (29-31 July 2022)
  • In the Night Garden (12-14 August 2022)