FRINGE REVIEW – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Portobello Youth Theatre

With the original book by Roald Dahl, and two full length movie adaptations, it’s likely that you’ll know the story of this show before you go to see it.  But it’s definitely interesting to see how a group of young actors are able to adapt this to the stage.

Last year, the Portobello Youth Theatre performed Little Shop of Horrors to much acclaim and they’re back this year for a short run with their new production.  Lots of effort has gone into the rehearsals, and this morning was the first time the curtain went up on their Fringe show.

They played to a packed hall this morning, and many of the audience were friends and relatives of the performers, delighted to see them and with inside knowledge of the layout of the theatre so that they could grab the best seats.  A u-shaped layout of seats and pillars at each corner of the ‘stage’ meant that those of us with a side view perhaps lost quite a lot of what was certainly a rich visual production.

Relying mostly on a set which had few props, the actors brought their scenery on with them for successive and quick-changing scenes.  A black box served as the focal point for the pre-chocolate factory scenes, and a rotatable panel the set for the factory itself.

This was a great choice of show for enabling the inclusion of as many young performers as possible.  Roles as Oompa Loompas and other crowd scenes give a variety of roles for performers of different ages and abilities.

The performers worked well together, were well rehearsed and gave an enthusiastic performance.  Of note, the tantrums of Veruca Salt, and the comedic timing of Willie Wonka were particularly strong.  And the device of using small plastic figures to represent some of the more difficult to stage episodes was the stuff of comic genius.

Definitely a show to include in your Fringe line-up if you can still get a ticket.

Added comments by Helen (13): “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance and especially liked the cute Ooompa Loompas.”

Added comments by Alex (9): “I liked it a lot because if was very funny.  I particularly liked the boy who played Grandpa Joe because he was good at acting as an older person.”

By The McNaughton Family Review Team

Dates: 10 – 13 August 12:30 pm @ Zoo, Pleasance
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