'Give them a peachy juice burst' the legend declaims from a speech
bubble attached to the face of a fresh-faced infant on the giant
billboard that acts as a stage curtain for the interval of Jemima
Levick's festive production of Roald Dahl's five a day-based classic.
David Wood frames his stage version around the sort of New York walking
tour normally the preserve of A-list movie stars. Here, we find young
James Henry Trotter exercising his possibly lysergically influenced
gardening skills from the inside of a beat-up caravan on a slice of
Central Park that resembles a revolving traffic island.
Accompanied by a posse of human-sized insects, James embarks on a
fantastic voyage that sees the
unidentified fruity object that freed him from a pair of wicked aunties
move across land, sea and air before coming home to roost in the big
apple itself. With the ever expanding peach represented in Jean Chan's
surrealist-influenced design work by a series of increasingly larger
umbrellas, Levick's cast, led by Thomas Cotran as a wide-eyed James,
should be relieved they landed atop the Empire State Building rather
than in downtown Ferguson, where the local constabulary might have
greeted them with something quite different to a ticker-tape parade.
Each of the insects is imbued with suitably larger than life
characteristics, from Scott Gilmour's shoe-hoarding Centipede and David
Delve's dour Earthworm to Keith Macpherson's fiddle playing
grasshopper, Irene Macdougall's French-accented Spider and Ann Louise
Ross' oh-so-chic Ladybird. All of the cast double up as assorted sea
creatures in a magical underwater scene, with Millie Turner making a
particularly menacing shark in a show where you'll really believe a
peach can fly.
The Herald, December 1st 2014