Reviewed by Sarah Bryan
David Walliams is a bit like a modern-day Roald Dahl and Awful Auntie is a wonderful mixture of quirky silliness with a dash of the macabre…
Hands up, I haven’t read the book but my nieces have and they were thrilled to accompany me to the theatre to see it live on stage. Walking towards the Waterside Theatre, the girls were in awe of the grandeur of the building, “Is it a whale?” “No, it’s definitely a gigantic boat” It’s a beautiful venue to visit and sits proudly dominating the corner of a busy area in the centre of the town, inviting you in with its spacious foyer, gleaming lighting and happy friendly smart staff. Not only did they have security conducting bag searches; they also had a steward with eyes like a hawk during the performance hovering as soon as someone got their phone out and ready to pounce to prevent photos being taken at all cost!
Laced in spooky lighting and with the most magnificent set I have ever seen; these twirling whirling towers of sheer creative craftsmanship are a complete wonder holding so many possibilities for ever changing backdrop combinations, it gives a seamless continuity to the scene changes.
The place was buzzing with the excited chatter of predominantly 8-12 year olds but I’d say this is a show for anyone above the age of 7; much younger and the dark evil laughs of Aunt Alberta relishing in the deaths of her family alongside an albeit friendly ghost might be a bit too scary for little ones.
Aunt Alberta is a truly brilliant character so wonderfully portrayed by the very talented Timothy Speyer; a highly experienced stage actor who has worked on many shows aimed at young people as well as various TV roles. This zany highly strung intense and completely bonkers persona was like watching David Walliams himself in his Little Britain days. If you’re a fan of his, you will delight in the way that Timothy Speyer has the talent to deliver this to the audience with his wondrous gestures, annotation and vocal ability.
Stella Saxby played by Georgina Leonidas had an uncanny ability to transform herself completely and believably into a 12-year-old girl; not only visually by her clever use of movement and animation but also with her vocal tone and expression. This must have been an incredibly difficult role to learn and deliver especially for a character who was mostly highly emotional and fearful and sometimes manic.
Our favourite character had to be the lovable and kind-heartedd Soot played by Ashley Cousins. He had a delightfully soft voice and an unusual manner of movement which added to the “other worldly” feel to the part.
Giggles from children and guffaws from grownups rolled throughout the show along with cheers at the end and enormous applause and this reaction was so well deserved from a cast as fabulous as this bunch. Take your kids or take your granny or just take yourself to see this production; it’s simply fantastic.
Tickets cost £27 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Awful Auntie is at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury from 18-22 July 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the box office on 0844 871 7607.
Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UG | 0844 871 7607