★★★★ Gangsta Granny | Ben dreads Friday evening coming around – another night when his parents send him to his granny’s house whilst they go ballroom dancing.

Birmingham Stage Company presents Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.
Birmingham Stage Company presents Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.

Granny is so dull, boring, doesn’t have a TV and eats rather a lot of cabbage. But on one particularly dull Friday evening, Ben discovers a biscuit tin full of jewels, and his granny confesses that she is “The Black Cat”, an international jewel thief and not quite as boring as Ben thinks. Thrilled by his granny’s double life, Ben and Granny hatch a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, but with nosey neighbour, Mr Parker, sticking his nose in, can they pull off the crime of the century?

Based on the children’s book by David Walliams, Gangsta Granny is a laugh out loud, family show which appeals and amuses. Walliams’ story is charming and well written and there is plenty on offer to keep the kids amused and engaged, but enough to keep the adults entertained as well, with plenty of laugh out loud moments, from the rather flatulent granny to some very dodgy ballroom dancing and the world’s fastest getaway mobility scooter. The show has a number of important points to make, particularly about not taking people on face value, following your dreams, respecting the elderly and the loneliness of old age faced by some pensioners, but does so without preaching to its younger audience.

The show is filled with colourful characters. Ashley Cousins exudes enthusiasm as Ben and Gilly Tompkins is perfect as Granny, whilst Benedict Martin is rather “Walliams-esque” as the nosey neighbour, Mr Parker, gurning his way across the stage. The characters are very much larger than life and almost pantomime-like, but this adds to the energy of the piece which moves along at a cracking pace and holds the younger audience members attention. Add in a slick, detailed and well-designed rotating set, some niftily choreographed scene changes and some colourful costumes and you have a rounded production which is appealing and enjoyable.

The show is fast moving, colourful, comedic and lively, but most importantly keeps it fairly simple and straightforward in terms of characters and narrative, making it a great family orientated show and one which has laughter, heart and warmth and is perfect for a family night out.

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Gangsta Granny is at Sheffield Theatres until Saturday 12th March 2016 before continuing on its national tour calling in at 32 venues around the country until 3rd December 2016. For full details, visit the website at http://www.birminghamstage.com/shows