Skip to main content

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

When Jason Manford's down-at-heel inventor Caractacus Potts rebuilds a rusted old banger in this new touring revival of Jeremy Sams' stage adaptation of the Roald Dahl scripted 1968 musical film, he gets a lot more than he bargained for with the flying machine that results from his tampering.

Inspired by Ian Fleming's short story awash with a trademark Bondesque array of customised cars, cartoon villains and exotic locales, the film's Bank holiday friendly songbook by Richard and Robert Sherman remains intact. James Brining's co-production between West Yorkshire Playhouse and former Festival Theatre boss John Stalker's Music and Lyrics company uses all the resources at his disposal to hone a facility for musical theatre developed while running Dundee Rep.

With Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's adventures on land, sea and air brought to life by a mix of hi-tech back projections and old-school engineering, Manford helms the show as nice guy Potts opposite Charlotte Wakefield's Truly Scrumptious. This allows Phill Jupitus considerable leeway to ham it up as Baron Bomburst alongside Claire Sweeney as his Baroness.

In the spirit of the teamwork the show advocates, the supporting cast have the most fun. Sam Harrison and Scott Paige have a ball as Bulgarian buffoons Boris and Goran, and Jos Vantyler's Childcatcher is a malevolent Goth sprite. On opening night, Hayden Goldberg and Caitlin Surtees are one of three teams of child actors playing the Potts offspring.

But it is the full-on ensemble scenes that count, be it the mockney morris dancing display, the Sweeney-led samba extravaganza or the music box magic that liberates an entire nation in a tale designed to unleash the collective child within.

The Herald, October 10th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …