Several hundred children witnessed the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s book classic at the Lyceum last night. Grinning ear-to-ear, the anticipation inside the theatre was palpable as they patiently awaited the introduction of the Big Friendly Giant.
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When the BFG did show up, jaws dropped and eyes widened. But it was more out of shock than excitement. For when a large-eared Lewis Howden walked onto the stage – standing at what appeared to be just a little under six feet tall – the inner-child that had been hibernating inside all the expectant grown-ups floated away, into the ether, like one of the BFG’s nightmare bubbles.
So the BFG was always going to be hard to adapt. We get that. And yes, the ‘big’ BFG does appear in the second half, although that’s a disappointment, too. But couldn’t the producers have put more thought into conveying the wondrous giant everyone wanted to see? Even when it came to depicting the human-eating giants being towed away by the Queen’s bellypoppers (helicopters); it was dramatised via a short animation cartoon. Can you say cop-out boys and girls?
Expectations aside, David Wood’s short-running adaptation does have some good things going for it. Howden’s charisma, for example, carries the whole tale through, and multiple-character actor Claire Knight is a delight to watch every time she enters the spotlight. Our young heroine, Sophie, meanwhile – who kicks the whole thing off by suggesting to her friends and family that they re-enact the BFG book by dressing up, handling puppets, and playing instruments – is carried off with the eager puppy enthusiasm of Robyn Milne.
Naturally, the whizzlepopping segment raised laughs as well as legs, and the giant’s exaggerated form of cartoonish wordplay never failed to raise a smile, either. Nevertheless, while the emphasis here focuses on the storytelling element rather than the visuals, it’s not the awe-inspiring production everyone desired. Even the Christmas sing-along at the end failed to raise the spirits.
The Lyceum has put on some great Xmas crackers in the past. Sadly, the WeeFG isn’t one of them.
Run ends 3 Jan