Roald Dahl, the infamous writer who brought us terrifically timeless tales of chocolate factories, giant peaches and marvellous medicines, may no longer be with us, yet his vivid imagination continues to inspire. In their latest production, Fiery Light Ltd inject life into the pages of a Dahl bestseller, keeping a new generation of children captivated with the magic of The BFG.
Cleverly presented as a story within a story, the production opens with a young girl named Sophie receiving her favourite book, The BFG, for her birthday. Full of excitement, and, like most children, carrying a wild imagination, Sophie chooses to re-enact the classic with her friends and family around her. The art of storytelling is mastered beautifully, children and adults alike being charmed by a fantasy giant world, terrified by the baddy Blood-bottler and delighted by make-believe language (snozzcumber- a Dahl alternative for a giant cucumber- being my personal favourite!)
Casting could not be better, characters being so believable that you cannot imagine them in any other part. Anthony Pedley, playing the title protagonist, not only acts like a Big Friendly Giant, but strangely enough, looks like one too. Performing the role for the 1466’th time, it would be no surprise if ‘fizzwiggler’s’ and ‘human beans’ have become an everyday term in Pedley’s day-to-day life!
Mountview-trained Becky John is equally perfect as Sophie, narrating the tale in an energised and simplistic manner, and with such animated physicality, that she is able to hold the attention of the audience from beginning to end.
The contrast of giant country and England is portrayed ingeniously, Pedley and John mastering the art of puppetry, so that in the land of giants Sophie is suitably small and in the grandeur of Buckingham Palace, the BFG towers over the queen and her servants. Set designer, Sean Crowley, must be praised for his artistic construction for the spectacularly large puppet- a table that composes of four grandfather clocks! Furthermore, a memorable shadow puppetry sequence, in which helicopters from London capture the monsters of the BFG’s world, is yet another way the creative team maintain visual engagement.
With a musical score of clarinets, flutes and guitars, played by the talented ensemble live on stage, the overall production is utterly enchanting. If the Fleshlumpeater’s and Gizzardgulper’s were not over-used in the first act, it would have been almost faultless.
Bright, Funny and Gripping, the BFG remains very much alive in this wonderful family treat.