A great big slice of festive entertainment is on offer at The Lyceum this season with Andrew Panton’s production of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.
Using puppetry and play-acting, the eight-strong ensemble cast bring Dahl’s much-loved characters to life on Becky Minto’s charming set. Young Sophie (an endearingly convincing Robyn Milne) convinces her family and friends to help her act out the tale of the Big Friendly Giant to help celebrate her birthday, and soon everyone is in on the act, most notably her father, who takes the part of the kindly BFG himself (a dual role which actor Lewis Howden obviously relishes in).
In the first act, Sophie is represented by a small puppet version of herself, operated adroitly by Milne. The magical tone of the piece helps conjure up the suspension of disbelief required to allow the audience to believe the BFG towers over her as we learn of the ways of the land of the giants – and the threat the rest of its fearsome and hungry inhabitants pose to the human world.
The pace steps up a gear in the second act as Sophie and the BFG return from the giants’ land to enlist the aid of none other than the Queen of England (an enjoyably versatile Claire Knight), and in this half of the performance, the giant is represented by a stage-domineering puppet requiring at least three people to operate. This act is great fun, and makes up for the relatively slow pace of the first.
David Wood’s script is faithful to Dahl’s original, and as such will appeal to youngsters in the audience. Unlike some Christmas shows and pantos however, there is not much in the way of knowing nods and winks to the parents watching – although the piece’s exuberant charm is easily enough enjoyed by all.
By the time the cast return after the finale to perform a medley of cheery Christmas songs, The BFG has whisked the audience to a land of imagination and back in a colourful and charming show which deserves to be a giant success.
The BFG runs at The Lyceum until 3 Jan 2015. Further information is available on The Lyceum website