Review by Flossie Waite
Presented by Little Angel Theatre based on the book by Roald Dahl
Little Angel Theatre
21st November 2015 – 31st January 2016
For ages 4-11
Yesterday, watching the Little Angel’s latest production, I kept scribbling down the ingenious lyrics and some of my favourite moments to prove later that having the words of Roald Dahl as a starting point makes it hard for an adaptation to go wrong. Cut to now, and I can’t find some of these best bits in my copy of The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. Turns out it wasn’t the writer often called ‘The World’s No. 1 Storyteller’ that came up with them: it was musician and lyricist Ben Glasstone, writer/ adaptor Tim Kane, and the rest of the play’s creative team. This production is so eccentric, imaginative and fun that all of it, even the embellishments, seem pure Dahl.
Billy dreams of restoring an abandoned old sweetshop, The Grubber, to its former glory, so is curious when the building is bought by a new company. He befriends the occupants – a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey – and becomes the manager of their business: The Ladderless Window Cleaning Company.
Director Peter O’Rourke’s fabulous puppets make the window washing every bit as impressive as it should be – the giraffe’s neck actually extends to reach the highest panes, and the monkey convincingly cleans the glass after first dabbing his cloth in the Pelly’s water-filled beak. Puppeteers Ronnie Le Drew, Mandy Travis, Michael Fowkes and Seonaid Goody skilfully manage the range of puppets and characters. Particularly enjoyable are the giraffe, whose plummy tones are Thatcher-esque, and the hilarious burglar ‘The Cobra’ – merciless teasing for his long body and short legs have led to a life of crime, learning to manoeuvre his ‘supernatually flexible’ body in the smallest of spaces.
A quarter of a century after his death, Roald Dahl is still celebrated for being in tune with young people in a way that is hard to replicate. That is, unless you are Little Angel Theatre, who have proved once again that they know exactly what works for their young audience.
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