Review: Gangsta Granny at South Street Park
It's not too often that you can stroll around the corner to watch a theatre show at your local park, but that's exactly what happened on a recent Wednesday evening in Bristol. The nationally renowned theatre company Heartbreak Productions brought their adaptation of David Walliams' bestselling book Gangsta Granny to Bedminster, and despite a forecast of rain, around four hundred locals braved the elements to watch this show in the open air.
The atmosphere was one of anticipation as kids sat with their friends on picnic blankets near the stage whilst adults sat further behind them on camping chairs. There was a bar and a barbecue, courtesy of the local school's PTA, and we settled in to watch this popular children's story. In case you've never read the book, let me fill you in...
Ben, an 11-year-old want-to-be plumber, is fed up with spending his Friday nights at Granny’s. All she wants to do is play scrabble and eat cabbage – not exactly his idea of fun! Hungry and bored, Ben goes searching for something more edible in the kitchen and stumbles upon an old biscuit tin. The tin holds more than just digestives, however... It contains Granny’s biggest secret… Ben’s Granny is an international jewel thief - and she needs his help to pull off her biggest heist yet, stealing the crown jewels!
It's always tricky for an adult to play a child's character, but Darryl Hughes was believable and well-received as Ben. It's also often the case in smaller production companies that cast members have to play more than one role, but the changes were seamless and everyone played each part with great enthusiasm. Gina George had the tricky task of playing both Aunt Edna and Granny but she did it exceptionally well, and everyone particularly loved the naked yoga scene!
Danny Milwain, as Flavio, deserves a special mention for doing a great job of entertaining the kids (and adults) throughout the show with his humour, and he used the small stage expertly for some well-choreographed and energetic dance routines.
Despite the fact that the rain came pouring down after the interval, it didn't dampen anyone's spirits. The play was strong enough to overcome the elements and this is testament to Heartbreak Production's experience of offering open air theatre shows across the UK since 1991. It was also lovely for the children to be able to get so close to the stage and to interact with the cast. My son is a huge fan of David Walliams' novels and he really enjoyed this production, which he says told the story exactly as it is in the book (it's always a bonus for kids when they can recognise and follow the storyline).
Verdict: This was a fun, high energy production, in a unique outdoor setting, and I think that is what made it extra special for all the families who attended. I hope we can look forward to some more open air theatre in Bedminster very soon!
Recommended Age: 7+
Running Time: 2 Hours including interval.
The show is currently touring the UK. Check the website to see where Gangsta Granny is heading next.
This production of Gangsta Granny was held in partnership with Compass Point Primary School and was produced by Jacqui Ham. I received two complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review. Photo credits: Alt_Bristol.