Birmingham Stage Company

Gangsta Granny is a jewel in Walliams' crown

10 February 2016

What a compliment! Thank you David Walliams for the chance to be the jewel in your crown, lets sparkle!



It’s a kids show ‘for all ages’ we were told.

But we’ve heard that one before to be honest, and while the press pictures look like fun and the kid friendly plot appeared to be a good ‘un, as I dashed into my seat for the 6.30pm start time (for little folks have earlier bedtimes than us grown-ups) I was trying to work out exactly why I’d agreed to sit through a showing of Gangsta Granny.

And then I remembered those cracking Christmas shows I’d watched on the TV – also from the slightly mad, very fab mind of David Walliams – and been enamoured with these past couple of years.

The Boy in the Dress and Billionaire Boy proved perfect little slices of small-screen cheer.

Still, when you are surrounded by a pile of chocolate box wrappers and loving the seasonal festivities is one thing.

Visiting MK Theatre on a horribly wind chilled evening after a manic day, though?

It takes more effort and dedication, does that.

If you have little munchkins, you’ll doubtless have a scattering of Walliams’ page-turners at home too.

Kids love his books and devour his every work.

Us? We have cats, and they only seem interested in books about Mickey Mouse or Tom and Jerry.

You know how it is.

And then the light dim, the excited whispers stop and the play starts; With Ben bemoaning having to spend another Friday night with his oh-so-boring Granny who will feed him an endless supply of cabbage focused food – cabbage soup, cabbage cake, cabbage pie…it’s enough to turn the poor lad green!

Ben, superbly played by an enthusiast Ashley Cousins, wants to be at home. 

But Friday night is dance night for his glitter ball obsessed parents, and he is duly shipped off while they go and enjoy the snake-hipped dance deliveries of pro-dancer Flavio.

Not even a phone call to his parents (the boogie-licious Benedict Martin and Laura Girling) begging them to whisk him away from his boring Granny makes a jot of difference.

Ben will have to put up with the rubbish food, rubbish stories and early bedtime yet again. Noooooo!

Then, while sneakily reaching for the biscuit barrel to satisfy his sweet tooth, Ben finds the tin brimming with treasures – diamonds, rings and other gems stolen by his Granny (this evening played to perfection by understudy Louise Bailey), who when not busy rustling up cabbage creations in the kitchen, is apparently something of an ace gem thief.

The newly-dubbed Gangsta Granny and her grandson decide to work together on a heist, and they have the biggest gems of all in their sights; the crown jewels!

Now you are thinking, ‘But how can a children’s theatre production that encourages theft be allowed?’

But, as the story plays out, and the bottom burps (always a hit with kids!) are let out, we learn that perhaps Granny isn’t that exciting after all.

But that doesn’t mean she is boring…

We won’t ruin the plot by telling you how Gangsta Granny reaches its conclusion, but we will tell you that the dancing at the end of the show is something else!

Gangsta Granny is a modern, warm, funny work that brings little mites into the theatre for possibly the only time other than pantomime, and delivers some life lessons in a great, easy to understand way.

For that, Walliams is to be applauded.

And you can clap him some more, for this story really does appeal to all-ages.

Just like the title of that well-watched small screen hit he judges, Walliams has Got Talent.

That is what it’s called, right?

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