“This is where dreams is beginning…”
This is the Lyceum’s Christmassy adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ginormous classic. Its message is of humility and caution, all intertwined, and it’s very enjoyable. I loved Dahl’s children stories and still do. It was therefore a delight to hear David Wood’s success in retaining the whimsical language for this play within a play and to see director Andrew Panton realise it all on stage.
What better to represent the many rooms of childhood imaginings than a doll’s house? That’s designer Becky Minto’s large doll’s house across the breadth of the Lyceum’s stage and there’s a 00-Super gauge train track going around it, just as would be expected of any child’s play room. However, arguably the most enchanting aspect of the set is the BFG’s cave and specifically the hanging shelves that are lowered into view, adorned with jars of multi-coloured dreams. Simple but so effective. And there are the bright and innovative costumes to match. In and out of onesies, dresses and tops; on and off with hats and shoes; all changed at a quick pace – a pace wholly in keeping with the never-ending imaginations of children. One of the most impressive costumes in the wardrobe is the Queen’s – a majestic Claire Knight – whose wellie boots are topped with fur and whose royal emblem is emblazoned on a red gilet.
An integral part of this production is its combination of live music and pre-recorded sound effects. The cast’s rounded musical performances only serve to further enchant a spell-bound audience. The hard work of Claire McKenzie – musical director and composer– is evident in polished but yet playful performances. Her marriage of jaunty Scottish rhythms, fiddles and drums with children’s nursery rhymes and kazoos is expertly balanced.
Any decent toy box has its puppets and they are brought out to play big time in this production. The medium provides much comic input as well as creating numerous characters in the hands of a small cast. The puppetry is an original and attractive feature and gives literal form to the make-believe on stage. Robyn Milne’s infectious giggle and expressive performance brings the Sophie doll vibrantly to life whilst Lewis Howden’s mysterious and magnificent BFG is not so much scaled down – except for those ears! – as uplifted. Clumsy on his feet and tripping over his gobblefunk speech this BFG warms the hearts of the audience.
Children and adults alike respond happily to the energy and enjoyment of the performances and repeated ‘whizzpopping’ had the children – and many adults – giggling with glee. This is, after all, a treasured story that seems to have lived a lot longer than its thirty-two years might suggest. There is wonderful fancy evoked here, escapism and delightful nostalgia.
“Human beans is not thinking giants exist.” Well, after this great big and magic production this human bean thinks otherwise.
Reviewer: Amy King (Seen 3 December)
Visit ‘BFG’ at the Lyceum here