Comedian David Walliams brings another of his bestselling books to the stage with the adaptation of Awful Auntie.
David Walliams has been keeping adult audiences entertained on screen for years, and while I haven’t read any of his award-winning children’s fiction, I can just imagine the larger-than-life characters keeping a new generation enthralled. So, who better to accompany me to opening night of Awful Auntie – the second of Walliams’ books to be adapted into a live stage performance – than my nephews, 11-year-old Dylan and 9-year-old Harry.
After receiving a brief overview of the storyline from Dylan on the journey to the theatre, I was slightly concerned about what I was letting myself, and more importantly them, in for – a play based on an orphaned survivor of a car crash wasn’t what I was expecting, but I needn’t have worried!
The stage performance is a condensed version of the popular children’s book, and Lady Stella Saxby does indeed wake from a coma following an accident that killed her parents. She finds herself in the ‘care’ of her Aunt Alberta, who, despite the initial pretence of wanting what’s best for her niece, is secretly plotting to trick Stella out of her inheritance.
After realising that there was more to the accident than first thought, and overhearing Alberta’s plans for her own demise, Stella, supported by the ghost of a chimney sweep, sets about proving what really happened to her parents while fighting for her home and her life!
Alberta is undeniably the star of the show, and embodies what we know Walliams for best; over-the-top characters that despite their obvious flaws – Alberta fought for the Germans during the war because she preferred their uniform, and has since committed murder – are still popular with the audience. Timothy Speyer was perfect for the role, and he, along with the costume department, should be congratulated for nailing the character created by Walliams, and interpreting the illustrations of Tony Ross.
The backstage team was clearly on form for this production. Aside from great costumes, I was impressed with the beautiful Great Bavarian Mountain Owl. Wagner, as he is known, begins the tale as Alberta’s pet but ultimately switches allegiance to save the day, and Stella – and avoid becoming the star exhibit in Alberta’s museum of stuffed owls.
Back to the cast and full credit to Georgina Leonides, who was rarely off-stage during the performance, but it was Gibbons the geriatric butler who got my nephews’ vote, with his oddball antics raising giggles throughout.
Should you go and watch this show? In truth, Awful Auntie wouldn’t be my first choice, but it was enjoyable and undoubtedly a hit with my nephews – they awarded it 5 out of 5 stars, and declared it ‘probably the best play I have ever seen’.
So there you have it, if you know any Walliams fans, need to entertain children over the age of 8, or just want to earn yourself the title of ‘Amazing Auntie’, this is the show for you… and your nieces and nephews!
Awful Auntie is on at The Regent, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday 7th October. Tickets are available from The Regent Theatre Box Office, or by calling 0844 871 7649.
Publishers of Staffordshire Living Magazine