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Gangsta Granny - UK Tour Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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David Walliams Tale Makes Stage Debut
What could be more fun for children (and adults) than seeing the Queen fart and an OAP burglar zipping around on a mobility scooter in a bid to steal the crown jewels?

There's a touch of Little Britain in this theatre adaptation of David Walliam's hugely popular children's story as Gangsta Granny is brought to the stage for the first time.

Gangsta Granny, UK Tour, Birmingham, New Alexandra Theatre, review
David Walliams' tale of Gangsta Granny comes to the stage

I caught the world premiere of the show at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre, where comedian Walliams was in the audience to see his madcap, yet also sentimental, tale bring laughter as well as a few tears.

Gangsta Granny stays in Birmingham until December 12, but returns again in May 2016. In the meantime, the tour moves on to regions including Glasgow, Wimbledon, Bromley, Oxford and Woking.

The story revolves around 11-year-old Ben (played by a wonderfully charismatic Ashley Cousins) and how he starts to see his "boring" grandmother in a new light when he finds out she is a famous jewel thief called the Black Cat.

Gangsta Granny, UK Tour, Birmingham, New Alexandra Theatre, review
Gangsta Granny is a fun-packed adventure for children

Ben starts to spend more time with her plotting to steal the crown jewels while his ballroom obsessed parents think he is training to take part in a Strictly Come Dancing style competition.

Gilly Tompkins plays the adorably lovable Grandma with a penchant for cabbage and burglary with gusto and you can't help wishing she was your grandmother too.

Despite all the fun including a rap, sequences with huge elephants and a journey across the Thames into the vaults of the Tower Of London, there are also some heartbreaking scenes towards the end of the play.

I must admit, I couldn't help but well up, but that gave this children's show a welcome extra depth of character from the norm.

Neal Foster has done well adapting the story to stage and has also directed the play to include plenty of interaction with the young audience. This is particularly notable in the dance competition scene with Flavio the professional dancer and a finale involving a jig with the Queen.

Gangsta Granny, UK Tour, Birmingham, New Alexandra Theatre, review
Gangsta Granny is touring the UK

The scenes are broken up with dancing and music and there's a cleverly crafted set to swiftly move the action between different locations. It helps that the friendly cast have a real rapport with children in the crowd.

Nosy neighbour Mr Parker is a real scene-stealer and could be straight out of Little Britain as a caricature of an over-active Neighbourhood Watch busy body prying on Granny and Ben. He's a real comedy delight who gets his come-uppance.

Gangsta Granny starts off a little slow but gathers pace quickly from midway through the first act and has all the ingredients of a classic children's tale that will delight young audiences.

For those of you with children who are fans of David Walliams' novels, it's worth watching this space for more theatre adaptations. When Walliams took to the stage at the end of the premiere he congratulated Neal Foster on how well Gangsta Granny had turned out and suggested that the same could be done with his other tales.

Rating: 8/10

Gangsta Granny - UK Tour
Running time: 2h 10m including a 20m interval
Tickets cost from 23.40 from the ATG Ticket Theatre Website.

Mon 07 - Sat 12 DEC 2015 - New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham,

Tue 12 - Sat 16 JAN 2016 - New Theatre Oxford, Oxford

Tue 09 - Sat 13 FEB 2016 - Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton

Wed 02 - Sun 06 MAR 2016 - Theatre Royal Brighton, Brighton

Tue 22 - Sat 26 MAR 2016 - Richmond Theatre, Richmond

Wed 08 - Sat 11 JUN 2016 - Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

Tue 28 - Sat 02 JUN 2016 - New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham,

Wed 20 - Sun 24 JUL 2016 - The Churchill Theatre Bromley,

Wed 07 - Sun 11 SEP 2016 - King's Theatre Glasgow, Glasgow

Wed 14 - Sun 18 SEP 2016 - New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Wed 21 - Sat 24 SEP 2016 - Grand Opera House York, York

Tue 01 - Sat 05 NOV 2016 - New Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon
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Why? Gangsta Granny Children's Tale Brought To Life On Stage For First Time
When: Touring until November 2016
Phone: Various -see tour list
Where: UK Tour - Birmingham, Wimbledon, Glasgow & More
Cost: From 23.40
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