Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews



Birmingham Stage Company , New Theatre Cardiff , May-09-18
AWFUL AUNTIE by Birmingham Stage Company Leading children’s theatre company, the Birmingham Stage Company brings their hi-octane production of one of well-known comedy actor, David Walliams’ series of lively and very popular children’s books, Awful Auntie to the New Theatre stage.

And how awful she is, in this very lively performance from Timothy Speyer she is very awful indeed. She is much more than awful, she is very, very nasty, in fact she’s a ...... oh no if I tell you that I will give the game away and spoil your visit to see this very lively play.

We are in Saxby Manor, one of those very large, old buildings we often see on TV used for historic series. It’s brought to life here by Jacqueline Trousdale’s, clever set of several revolving towers that take us into bedrooms, up chimneys, out into the yard and we see many other places in this multi-roomed establishment. It all would have looked even livelier if Jason Taylor had brightened up his lighting, just a bit.

We were certainly not lacking in brightness at all from the two very bright performances from the brilliant young actors who were at the heart of the story. It was the sheer delight that they took in their work that made the hearts of every young member of this packed audience jump with joy as they followed them on their adventures.

We first meet Stella Saxby, daughter of the Lord and Lady of Saxby Hall lying in bed. She is lying very stiffly. That Awful Auntie has been up to her tricks again and bound the poor girl in thick bandages from her neck right down to her feet!

But this feisty little lady is having none of this. She rolls on to the floor. She twists and turns and spins around and just like Harry Houdini she was soon free of her nasty bindings. There is much more of this energy and this totally endearing charm to come. Georgina Leonidas gives us the perfect, fun loving 12 year and eleven month and twenty-nine day old child, (this later becomes vital) with the warmest of smiles anyone could wish for.

She is soon joined by Soot. He is the ghost of a young chimney sweep, beautifully played by Ashley Cousins; they quickly join forces to try to overcome Aunt Alberta’s wicked ways. Wicked ways in which she is frequently assisted by Wagner, a very large Screech Owl, brought wonderfully to life by the skillful puppetry of Roberta Bellekom.

With very extreme awfulness Auntie has arranged that something very nasty has happened to Stella’s parents, to which the bashed up Rolls Royce in the yard bears witness. For now Stella has to assume the title of Lady Saxby and ownership of the manor. This is a dream come true for our Awful Auntie; she thinks she will be able to take ownership of the manor away from Stella very easily.

So off she goes, trying every trick in the book to wrest the building from her little niece. But Stella always excellently assisted by Soot have a great time climbing up chimneys and riding around in the battered Rolls, always together. Leonidas and Cousins work together with great understanding and really bring these two loveable kids to life. It is the excellent performances from these two very talented actors that make this show such a very enjoyable experience as much for the mums and dads as for their children.

Watch out for these two, they could be stars of the future. By the time the story ends Stella is now 13 and grown up and grown ups can’t see ghosts. Soot just disappears right before our eyes. But Stella will never forget him and the two of them will stay in the memory for a long time.

Reviewed by: Michael Audience Wales

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