- Lorna Irvine
- 16 January 2020
This article is from 2020
Adaptation of David Walliams story makes for a fine family show
There's toilet humour … and then there's TOILET humour. As every Vic and Bob fan knows, when it's done right, it can be a glorious thing. Based on David Walliams' book, and adapted by Neal Foster for the stage with music by Jak Poore, this is mostly a winner; a gregarious, big-hearted production with smatterings of satire, gross-out chuckles for all, and piles (steady!) of pathos.
When Joe (Matthew Gordon) son of rich Birmingham loo roll inventor Len Spud (Jason Furnival) tires of being (literally) the butt of everyone's jokes, he decides to enrol in a new comprehensive school – effectively reinventing himself in order to try and make new friends. But his toupee-sporting, flashy father seems more interested in chasing trophy girlfriends half his age, than caring about Joe's welfare.
Gordon is engaging as Joe, although rather outclassed by Davy Bell as his nerdy new best friend Bob, who brings a sweet vulnerability and great timing to the show. He's effectively the Irish Milhouse to Gordon's Brummie Bart. There's superb female support here too, in the shape of Emma Matthews as Mrs Trafe, the unhinged dinner lady whose grotesque offerings, such as deep-fried Blu Tac, would make Heston Blumenthal blanch, and Rosie Coles as bimbo gold digger Sapphire provides bling and vicious barbs in equal measure.
The songs are superb, eschewing any ghastly West End treacle and instead mocking the elite classes and a roll call of clichés teachers use when exasperated. Any moments of sentimentality are swiftly seen off, and although some of the bludgeoning sound drowns out the occasional lyric, and there's a tendency towards comic stereotypes, it's all delivered by a fleet-footed cast with sure direction from Foster – and Jackie Trousdale's witty set and costumes are full of fine surprises, too.
Kings Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 19 Jan, and touring.