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The BFG at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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The BFG ensemble. Photo by Robert Day /

Swizzfiggle and bellypopper – there's a Big Friendly Giant on stage.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre's Christmas family show is a new adaptation of Roald Dahl's tale of an unlikely friendship between a little orphan girl Sophie and a big giant.

Adapted by David Wood, it's a tall order to stage. Directed by Teresa Ludovico and designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, this production has a regular sized actor, Joshua Manning, taking the role of the BFG. He is thoroughly friendly with a penchant for creating huge farts – which will ensure the children a laugh or two.

All the other giants, who are decidedly less friendly, are created by giant shadows cast onto the rear of the stage or by the sudden appearance of massive feet or hands.

Three different girls take the role of Sophie on different dates throughout the run. On press night, Lara Wollington had the part easily in her stride. She appeared to enjoy every moment and was thoroughly at home as Sophie.

The first act, in which the story is developed and the friendship develops does have a tendency to drag at times. The creation of a 'chorus' who drift in and off stage moving and removing bits of set and costume slows the pace a little and can be distracting.

But the production really picks up pace in the second act when Sophie and the BFG arrive at Buckingham Palace to find the Queen in bed.

Mike Goodenough is excellent as the Queen. There is a touch of pantomime dame about him but he manages to ensure Her Majesty is the life and soul of the party. There are some ingenious touches such as a rapid costume change from nightie into handbag-toting day suit. There are also a few moments of adult humour here which some of the children will miss (hopefully!)

The ensemble are given lots of different roles to play and this is a very physical production with acrobatics, high kicks and some aerial displays which all add to the Christmas magic.
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Why? Dahl classic comes to the stage
When: until January 24
Phone: 0121 236 4455
Where: Birmingham Rep Theatre
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