Sarah Jones and here family enjoy David Walliams’ Awful Auntie at the Bristol Hippodrome
I’m a fan of David Walliams, from his adult humour in Little Britain, to his judging ability in Britain’s Got Talent and his children’s literature, so I knew we were in for a treat with the stage adaptation of the children’s book Awful Auntie. Earlier this year we had read Gangsta Granny and seen its production at the Theatre Royal Bath, but we didn’t know a lot about Awful Auntie other than it was the same author. All was about to become evident….
Set in the 1930s, Awful Auntie tells the story of a girl 12 year old girl called Stella Saxby (Georgina Leonidas) who wakes from a coma to be greeted by her Awful Aunt Alberta (Timothy Speyer). Stella’s parents have died and her Awful Auntie is trying to murder her to inherit Saxby Hall. This terrible situation sees Stella stepping up the challenge and turning into a great detective, helped along the way by a mischievous ghost – Soot the cockney rhyming slang chimney sweeper (Ashey Cousins, who you may have seen as Ben in Gangsta Granny).
Soot brought good humour to the show, encouraging Stella to seek revenge on her Auntie with boot polish in her face cream, and itching powder ‘ants in her pants’, along with other ghoul activities such as throwing plates, all of which the children found particularly amusing! There was also an ancient butler of Saxby Hall, Gibbon, who was a comedy genius, getting absolutely everything in a muddle and oblivious to the chaos of his surroundings.
The stage for the show was one of the best I have seen at a theatre, with section moving and twisting to transform into libraries, cellars, kitchens and bedrooms, as well as the outside of Saxby Hall. Parts of the show were also brought to life with the use of puppets – a Great Bavarian Mountain owl who belonged to the Auntie, and also smaller puppet characters resembling the main characters were also used to great effect.
While the show is recommended from age five, I would say my five-year-old found some parts of it scary – although he also laughed at much of the action, was engaged throughout and keen to find out what happened in the end. My seven year old loved the whole thing and will definitely be reading the book next! At the end of the performance we were told where to look on the website to see what happened to Stella as she grew up, something my children couldn’t wait to find out once at home to continue the story.
This was a brilliant and clever two hour show and I would definitely recommend, whether you’ve read the book or not.
Awful Auntie runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until Sunday, 6 May. For more details, click here.