Reviewed by Sally Carter
Directed, produced and performed by Graeme Clements, this is the Fareham Musical Society (FMS) very first children’s production. Having been inspired by seeing his own grandchildren’s reactions to watching The Tiger Who Came to Tea a few years ago, Graeme decided he would produce his own production of a children’s classic to further enthral, inspire and nurture future generations of theatre goers and performers – and so came, James and The Giant Peach.
The story was told in one act lasting just over an hour, so a good length for their target audience and barring one or two toilet breaks for a small no. of children, it seemed just right. I took my own 8-year-old book worm (Roald Dahl being amongst her favourite authors) and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
When poor James suddenly loses his mum and dad in a freak accident involving an escaped rhino, he must move in with his selfish and vain aunties, Sponge and Spiker. James is made to wait on them and can see no way out of this life of servitude, until one night a strange visitor, leads to a string of further, equally strange events, that involve a centipede, a ladybird, a spider, an earthworm, a giant peach and an epic adventure!
Along with Graeme as Narrator and Tour Guide, a small cast of just 7 players and a few stage hands brought the story to life with 5 of those playing multiple roles – “Bravo!” I was especially impressed with Molly Lancaster (Centipede and Aunt Sponge) as well as Amy Campbell in the role of James and Lucy Barratt (Grasshopper and Number 1) who belted out a very aptly placed rendition of “Rolling on a River”. The production stayed true enough to Dahl’s story and was delightfully embellished with music, song, dance, slapstick humour and good old audience participation! From following prompts on a big screen to assisting with catching and guiding the peach down towards the Empire State Building, this lively and creative production performed by an amateur band of players was most enjoyable. In the program Graeme asks us;
“Do we make this a regular slot on the FMS Calendar?”
Well – we would say “Yes!” Thank you, Graeme Clements and team. We would love to see another children’s production at Ferneham Hall.
For other shows at the Ferneham Hall in Fareham visit www.fernehamhall.co.uk or call the box office on 01329 231942.
Ferneham Hall, Osborn Road, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 7DB | 01329 231942