The youngsters watching The BFG at The Dukes were looking for any opportunity to join in - an impromptu singalong before the show began set the scene for a highly excited audience wanting to be entertained. The Dukes always puts on a Christmas show rather than a pantomime, if you want to ‘boo’ and ‘hiss’ then this isn’t the show for your family.
Many of the little ones in the audience wanted to do just that as they watched the story unfold of the Big Friendly Giant (BFG) and his friendship with a child called Sophie and their battle against the evil giants who travel the world eating humans. The first half of the show takes a while to engage the audience with the BFG played by Robert Pickavance and a small puppet used to portray Sophie to give the illusion of scale.
The second half is much better as the play really moved up a gear with a gigantic puppet briefly replacing Pickavance and Rachel Drazek taking on the role of Sophie. Actors Mark Pearce and Richard Hand also play two very funny army officers helping to capture the wild giants and Amanda Bellamy and Louisa Eyo give lovely turns as both the Queens of England and Sweden.
But as everyone knows, and Roald Dahl certainly did, what every child finds really funny are bodily functions, particularly associated with the bottom. The gags about ‘whizzpoppers’ made the young audience and the few adults in the auditorium hoot with laughter.
I’m a fan of The Dukes’ Christmas shows and this one is worth a look. But BFG and Sophie, please speak up a bit! If only for the benefit of older folk who love Dahl’s language and want to hear every delicious word of it.