One of the biggest surprises in my entire theatre reviewing career- I completely wasn’t expecting it to be but it is definitely one of my most favourite things I’ve ever had the privilege to watch.
Roald Dahl’s stories, with their unique tales and clever writing, have delighted young audiences for decades. These young audiences have often grown up into adults who still find that same delight in Dahl’s writing. This new stage production of The Witches is a perfect representation of its ability to hold both ages of the audience completely and utterly captivated.
The adaption has been perfectly reimagined for a stage play- the pacing holds your attention for the (very) seemingly short 40mins and covers the majority of the book’s major plot. Before the play begins Guy Edmonds explains what is going to happen, a clever device to help the children understand that he will be playing all the characters and using his voice and body to switch between them. He also asks that we pay close attention and not talk throughout the performance, to which even the very young audience obediently follows.
There are several delightful surprises in stall throughout the production, and despite the relatively small size of the theatre the whole space is cleverly utilized. There are wonderful effects with lighting and sound, great use of minimal props, and delightful surprise moments of smoke and strobe. It’s a lot of fun!
Edmonds rapidly switches between the characters- an eager young boy, the bent over and hacking Grandmother, the chubby Bruno and his parents, the evil Grand High Witch and even cleverly depicts the changed mice through his hands.
In this one man show Guy Edmonds is just absolutely spectacular. He captures the rapt attention of children for the full 40mins, and the obvious admiration of all the adults too. His ability to switch between so many characters so rapidly, and to so clearly depict these varied characters through change of voice and body language, is simply mesmerizing to behold. My favourite part of the whole experience is watching his fantastic facial expressions, as with just his eyes he is able to illustrate the character’s intentions.
This was an absolutely wonderful play that was carefully created to delight both children and adults alike. I laughed and gasped throughout, and simply can’t wait to see Edmonds in another production. Although this was sadly the last performance of The Witches, I am sure the Monkey Baa Theatre has several other exciting productions lined up that will be just as fun so I will be making sure to keep an close eye out! And I’ll be keeping that same close eye out for any Witches too!