Home  |  Style  |  Theatre  |  Gangsta Granny at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

Gangsta Granny at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

by Miranda Humphrey-Green. Published Wed 20 Sep 2017 11:00, last updated: 21/09/17

The Birmingham Stage Company’s production of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny played at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion and is the perfect treat for junior schoolers when it starts to tour again.

Ben (Ashley Cousins) hates Fridays. Each week, he stares down the barrel of Friday night at Granny’s where he is subjected to cabbage and Scrabble whilst his Strictly-obsessed, self-obsessed parents chassé off to indulge their love of dancing.

When Granny overhears Ben on the phone complaining to his parents about how boring she is, she lets him in on the secret of her double life as an international jewel thief. Ben is amazed and impressed is equal measure.

Suddenly, in Ben’s eyes, his granny is more hip than hip replacement. In fact, she’s Gangsta Granny.

Desperate to share in an adventure with his newly cool grandparent, Ben suggests the heist of a lifetime: to steal the Crown Jewels. Meanwhile, however, Granny has bad news from the hospital. Could this be her last job?

Will they pull it off despite the best efforts of nosey neighbour Mr Parker and HRH herself? And how will Ben break it to his parents that he’d rather be a plumber than a ballroom dancer?

There may be a twist. There may, in fact, be a further twist, if you’re paying attention. There’s certainly humour as Gilly Tompkins’ Gangsta Granny creeps across the stage on her folding mobility scooter with all the speed of a snail on Mogadon or stumps about emitting trumps thanks to her cabbagey diet.

But, unexpectedly, there is pathos, not least in the excellent hospital scene where Granny’s demise is touchingly depicted through a clever combination of both freeze-framing and slow motion.

There’s also a lot of music and dance. Scene changes are accompanied by a splash of dance, from Bollywood to Ballroom, and we get an exuberant gangsta rap as well as some pure pastiche in the dance competition, hosted by the oleaginous Fulvio Fabiolo (Umar Malik). Composer Jak Poore references familiar themes to Mission Impossible, James Bond and, of course, Strictly Come Dancing without ever quite stealing them.

The set design is unobtrusive and intelligent. A couple of cubes rotate to give a different scene with each new facet, allowing us to travel between home, hospital and the Tower of London.

Based on David Walliams’ hit children’s book, this production is pretty faithful to the original. In fact, in homage to the author, Benedict Martin’s Mr Parker is very Walliamsesque in his Little Britain sibilant silliness.

But the message at the heart of this engaging escapade is not silly. Just as Roald Dahl’s children’s stories highlight the plights of their young heroes at the hands of indifferent, or malicious adults, Walliams wants to tell us something about how our society treats its oldest generation.

Largely ignored by her selfish son and initially merely tolerated by her grandson, Granny’s colourful career as master criminal reminds us that every pensioner has a story and a worth. Ben’s great achievement is not the heist of the century but learning to value and love his aged grand-p.

Gangsta Granny

PR Rating: **** Gran-D


Post a comment

You have 140 characters left