The BFG - The Dukes, Lancaster
Long having abandoned traditional Christmas storylines The Dukes has come up with another winner in which heroine Sophie (the diminutive Rachel Drazek and an even smaller puppet version of the character) has to look out behind her for a lot more reasons than she would in pantomime.
It’s 20 years since Dahl’s now ever popular story of the unlikely giant vegetarian (except when he has breakfast with The Queen) and his even less likely sidekick found themselves first adapted for the stage – but David Woods’ way with words is unlikely to ever date and makes the most of the author’s gripping tale telling.
While Dahl might flinch at the product placement references to Coke and Pepsi, he’d love the volume of the whizzpopping effects of fizzy drinks just as he would thoroughly approve of just how gruesome looking the bad giants are. It says something then that young audiences now seem immune to the ugly gargantuans, preferring instead to chant “fight, fight” when they turn on one another and screaming like they’re at a rock concert when the lights dim to open both of the acts.
Director Joe Sumsion copes well with the occasional lapses in action (there’s always plenty of padding to make Dahl’s slim volumes stretch out to a two-hour production) and the multi tasking six actors give the impression that there’s a cast of dozens.
Robert Pickavance (pictured) is a perfectly pitched sympathetic BFG delivering his “wigglish” vocabulary with the conviction of a Mrs Malaprop but there’s good support all round – from puppets and “human beans” alike.
n The BFG runs at The Dukes until January 7.