James and the Giant Peach, King's Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Sell A Door Theatre Company
Adapted by David Wood; Director Bronagh Lagan; Designer Kate Unwin
Ewan Goddard (James)
Running time

Sell A Door Theatre Company presents a canty, if scanty, rendition of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.

There’s a peach-shaped house claiming centre-stage as the curtain rises. It could have landed straight out of the pages of a fairytale - which in a way it has. This is James’s giant peach and he begins his story at the end – a topsy-turvy twist of which Dahl would no doubt approve. James now lives in the giant peach, with his giant creepy-crawly friends, in New York’s giant Central Park, and together they show us just how they got there.

The bit about James being orphaned when his parents are ravaged by a rhino while out shopping in London is, quite rightly, quickly brushed over. Sent to live with his revolting Aunts, fat Sponge and skinny Spiker, he endures hardship and humiliation, until a bit of magic renders the eponymous fruit and some nearby garden bugs simply enormous. James and his ginormous critter collective escape inside the prodigious peach, enjoying a torrid trans-Atlantic adventure that sees them finally finish where they started.

Delivered in full-on, child-friendly fashion (there’s even a bit of audience participation) it goes at quite a lick. The cast attack their roles with great, if at times a little too much, energy but where they really excel is in the singing, with some gorgeous close harmonies coming across particularly well.

Compared to a couple of recently viewed big-budget musicals adorned with many bows and whistles, this does appear a bit low-rent by comparison. There’s quite a bit of ‘filling in’ business to cover the fact that just about everyone’s playing dual roles and so keep running off to make a quick costume change. The peach, though magnificent and multifaceted, is just about the only bit of set they’ve got. There’s a couple of miserable cut-outs that are supposed to look like the Aunts splatted on the side of the peach. They really don’t, and one can’t help feeling that a bit more effort could have been made.

However, despite the cast, set and script being a bit on the lean side (the total performance time is just one hour) the production is thoughtfully put together and, judging by the audience reaction, the younger kids love it.

Runs 24th – 27th May 2016