GANGSTA GRANNY REVIEW
The Bristol Hippodrome
Wednesday 31st May – Saturday 3rd June 2017
Because it’s the school holidays and we had a bit of respite from all the clubs we usually ferry them to, I managed to take all three of my boys to see Gangsta Granny at the Bristol Hippodrome this week. Eight year old Zu had seen it before with his drama group and was keen to go again, eleven year old Bubble loves the books and thirteen year old Jamifly was looking forward to watching a play rather than a musical so it looked like they were going to be an easy audience to please.
GANGSTA GRANNY SYNOPSIS
Ben’s parents are obsessed with ballroom dancing and they’d love to inflict their hobby on their son, but all he wants to do is pave the way for his dream career and cosy up with a copy of Plumbers Weekly! Ben dreads his Friday night visits to Granny’s house. As if the cabbage soup and cabbage pie she serves up aren’t horrendous enough, she offers him cabbage cake and cabbage chocolate for a special treat! Ben thinks his elderly relative is a total bore until one day he discovers her outrageous secret and from then on he can’t wait for Friday nights and the adventure of a lifetime he’s about to embark upon with his very own Gangsta Granny!
GANGSTA GRANNY REVIEW
Despite not being a musical, there’s music dotted throughout. The atmosphere is less reverential than at many shows – more like a pantomime than a play. The children aren’t afraid to laugh out loud and there’s a fair but of adult audience participation too, particularly during the dance competition when Ben’s Mum’s ballroom-dancing heart-throb flounces around the stage:-
“We love you Flavio!”, followed by giggling aplenty.
Most of the small cast play multiple roles and we’re amazed at the speed of their costume changes. I’m still not sure how Ben manages to appear in a succession of potential ballroom dancing costumes, including a tree, an English breakfast and a variety of Quality Street chocolates in just a few seconds! My sons have a couple of theories on how this is possible but I suspect there’s magic at play.
Granny’s aforementioned obsession with cabbage paves the way for plenty of bottom humour. Her constant blowing off doesn’t attract as much hilarity as I expect from this young audience but there are lots of funny bits which get more laughs, like Ben and Granny’s gangster rap scene and Raj the shopkeeper’s spectacularly unattractive “special offers”. Eight year old Zu doesn’t hesitate in telling me what amused him the most:-
“My funniest part was the dream where Ben’s Mum and Dad were ballroom dancing dressed as cabbages and Granny fed Ben cabbage soup with a giant spoon!”
We like the little outbreaks of dancing throughout, by Mum and Dad, the black cat, by the crew moving the props and even by the Queen herself!
“I want the children of Britain to dance.”
And dance they did! Lots of little people stood up and boogied as requested by her majesty which was a jolly clever move, as a standing ovation of tall people which may have otherwise ensued, would have been a major downer for the children whose views would have been blocked.
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GANGSTA GRANNY AGE SUITABILITY
Apart from one sad event, the story is fun, easy to follow and has a couple of positive messages, including.
“All you can do in this life is follow your dreams. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time” Gangsta Granny
We think it would be most entertaining for younger children from around five upwards.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many young children at the Bristol Hippodrome and you can tell that they’re the ones who’ve dragged their parents here rather than the other way around! David Walliams’, one of the Britain’s Got Talent judges and creator of the ground-breaking comedy series, Little Britain and Big School, is now the best-selling author for children in the country. His books are on schools’ recommended reading lists but that’s not why our children are reading them. My eight year old is devouring his fourth Walliams (Awful Auntie) at the moment and can’t wait to tick the rest off in due course.
Louise Bailey is an excellent Granny – we thoroughly enjoyed her mischievous performance and were genuinely surprised to learn how young an actress she looks in real life. Gangsta Granny is a funny, family show with an interesting story with an unexpected twist and gets a big thumbs up from the boys and I.
As usual, please do share your thoughts about the show or our review in the comments below.
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