Birmingham Stage Company’s new tour of David Wood’s theatre adaption of Roald Dahl book George’s Marvellous Medicine finds itself happily ensconced on the main stage at Nottingham Theatre Royal this week until Saturday 22nd October. Happy is the key word in this magic production.
Less dark than some of Dahl’s children’s books the show lends itself to lots of cartoon style daftness on a fun farm house and farmyard set designed by Jacqueline Trousdale. Much of the fun and magic comes from the lighting (Jason Taylor), the jaunty music from composer Matthew Scott and a plethora of bonkers sound effects from sound designer Tom Lishman. In the second half especially there are tons of visuals effects and broad humour to keep the family audiences happy and a great deal of audience participation when the Kranky family on stage decide to recreate making a second batch of George’s Marvellous Medicine. It is all great fun and the kids in the audience love helping George by shouting out their encouragement and stirring the mixture.
George is played by Nottingham actor Ed Thorpe and he does a brilliant job of winning the audience over to his energetic and nutty plans to use magic spells and a lurid concoction of toxic liquids, sprays and animal pills to kill his very annoying and rude Granny (Deborah Vale). Thorpe has the perfect manner and expressive face for this type of children’s theatre. Deborah Vale is superb as the demanding obnoxious old Granny and Deborah Vale’s real life twin sister Tessa Vale plays her daughter, the farmer’s wife to farmer Kranky. (Richard Mullins) and of course is George’s mum. Tom Eykelhof is terrifically lively as the giant chicken running amok around the farm.
Director Phil Clark keeps the short two hundred minute show charming, upbeat and occasionally frantic with some inventive uses of the two level set. On and around the farm itself there are cute piglets, chickens aplenty and a scary looking bull that all add to the fun feel of the terrific Birmingham Stage Company production. There are also some clever special effects in the transformation scenes.
In the programme there are fun activities for the kids to do at home and remember their great night out at Nottingham Theatre Royal. After all these delighted kids in the audience are the audiences of the future. Just don’t copy making George’s Marvellous Medicine at home kids!
Reviewer: Phil Lowe