Gangsta Granny (3 stars)

Solid if not sensational adaptation of David Walliams' bestseller

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This article is from 2016.

Gangsta Granny

If there's one thing to get kids and adults alike howling out loud or chortling into the back of their hands, it's jokes about poo, pumps and wee. And for those who can't get enough of the stinky stuff, plenty of it floats around in Birmingham Stage Company's production of Gangsta Granny.

The bestselling 2011 book by David Walliams has already been a TV hit with Julia McKenzie in the title role and here the significantly younger Gilly Tompkins has a lively ball as the cabbage-loving, jewellery-snatching, constantly-trumping grandmother to 'little Benny'.

Initially, Ben (Ashley Cousins brings to mind what Russell Howard might have been like as a young lad) is completely bored by his Friday night sleepovers at gran's house (she's looking after him in order to facilitate his parents' weekly ballroom dancing date). But when he uncovers her secret identity as international gem-thief The Black Cat, he starts to take more than a fleeting interest in granny's double life.

There's much to enjoy about this production such as its revolving and evolving set, which at various points transforms into granny's house, the Thames and the Tower of London. Plus, there's a nice spot of fourth-wall dismantling when shopkeeper Raj (Umar Malik) comes among us in the interval to suggest we buy discounted ice-cream from his establishment rather than from the ushers, while Tompkins / Cousins make a solid partnership at the show's core, so when their separation arrives in the second half, it's genuinely moving.

But oddly for a work created by a pedigree comedian and adapted by a company which has a strong track record in humour, having brought several Roald Dahls and Horrible Histories to the stage, the laughs don't really fly as they should. Perhaps the worst review Gangsta Granny could have received is that during the first half, some of the target crowd seemed more interested in their souvenir brochures than the actual show.

Gangsta Granny is on tour until Sun 3 Sep 2017. Reviewed at Edinburgh King's Theatre.

This article is from 2016.

Gangsta Granny

  • Written by: David Walliams

The world premiere performance of David Walliams' Gangsta Granny book, about a Friday night with Granny that ends up being more exciting than expected. Presented by the Birmingham Stage Company (Horrible Histories).

Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

Wed 21 Jun

£10–£14.50 / 01892 530613

Thu 22 Jun

£10–£14.50 / 01892 530613

Fri 23 Jun

£10–£14.50 / 01892 530613

…and 2 more dates until 25 Jun

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Wed 17 May

£19–£26.75

Thu 18 May

£19–£26.75

Fri 19 May

£19–£26.75

…and 2 more dates until 21 May

Bristol Hippodrome

Wed 31 May

£19–£26.75 / 0844 847 2325

Thu 1 Jun

£19–£26.75 / 0844 847 2325

Fri 2 Jun

£19–£26.75 / 0844 847 2325

Sat 3 Jun

£19–£26.75 / 0844 847 2325

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