The Rose Theatre, Kingston has a really engaging atmosphere for children with well-designed seating. Most of the seats are double – more like small sofas, and smaller children sit on cushions close to the stage where they can see more clearly and interact with the actors.
This play, based on the book by Roald Dahl, tells the story of a boy (‘Boy’) who lives with his Grandma after his parents were killed in a car crash. His Grandma tells him all about witches and how to recognise them. During a trip to Bournemouth, Boy meets Bruno, a rich fat boy, and they both encounter witches who are there for their annual conference. The Grand High Witch has an evil plan to turn all English children into mice with a magic potion she has invented – a plan which must be foiled at all costs!
The first thing I noticed were the whizzy props and set. They were used in such an imaginative way throughout the play, with the same props being used as different things – from a treehouse to a bedroom to a ship, to a hotel. The lighting and special effects helped to create these different scenes and atmospheres. I really enjoyed the loud bangs from the magic potion, and my mum loved the different images and movies which were projected onto the back curtain. What was really effective was the way they used up-scaled props when Boy and Bruno were mice.
The costumes, were well designed, with very quick costume changes indicating changes of character. Most of the cast had to double up as different characters, so they had to do a lot of costume changing!
All the actors were splendid and very energetic, engaging with the audience very well. The adults playing the children (Fox Jackson-Keen and Kieran Urquhart) were excellent, and I loved ‘Boy’s’ acrobatics, which were stunning. The whole cast was multi-talented, singing and playing all sorts of musical instruments. All the music was live and was played on stage by the cast, which really added to the atmosphere of the performance. Especially good was Mrs Jenkins (Elexi Walker), Bruno’s mum, who was really loud, stuck out her bottom and bosoms, and tottered around on her high heels in a very funny way. She was the Mum from Hell! All the witches were very witchy and evil – and funny too, scratching their sores and looking terrible. But the best performance was by Sarah Ingram as the Grand High Witch. She was in total control of every witch – they were all scared of her, and with good reason. She was so evil, and even killed one of them in front of them all. She had a brilliant singing voice and put on a great foreign accent which was evil and funny at the same time.
The whole play was so funny, a little bit scary (it is by Roald Dahl), and quite sad in places, but was suitable for all ages. Younger kids, older kids, and their parents all seemed to be enjoying themselves. And I definitely spotted some adults who were there all by themselves. I certainly had a great time and enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend this play to everybody who enjoys a fun night out at the theatre.