Review: James and the giant Peach at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

JATGP_new_large_show
West Yorkshire Playhouse

‘This winter fly away on an amazing expedition with Roald Dahl’s hero James, his new-found garden bug friends and one gigantic peach. Join the adventurers as they journey through the sky on an across the world voyage. Have they bitten off more than they can chew in the shark infested waters of the Atlantic Ocean, or will it be plain sailing through the enchanted Palace of the Cloud Men? End this juicy tale with a trip to New York City and find out if everything turns out peachy at the Playhouse for James.’

By ROALD DAHL  Adapted by DAVID WOOD

‘James and the Giant Peach was Roald Dahl’s first classic novel for children. Although The Gremlins is sometimes referred to as an earlier example of his writing for children, James was Roald’s first conscious attempt to write for a younger audience after several years of writing primarily adult short stories. Roald started writing it in 1959 after encouragement from his agent, Sheila St Lawrence.

In the orchard at Roald’s home in the Buckinghamshire countryside, there was a cherry tree. Seeing this tree made him wonder: what if, one day, one of those cherries just kept on and on growing bigger and bigger? From giant cherries Roald also considered ever-increasing pears and even apples, but eventually settled on a giant peach as the method for James’s magical journey. The book is dedicated to his two eldest daughters, Olivia and Tessa. It was first published in 1961 to glowing reviews and marked the beginning of his prolific career as a children’s author. –here

James and the Giant Peach is still a favourite more than 50 years later. In 1996, an animated film version featuring the voices of Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes, Pete Postlethwaite and Susan Sarandon was released, while David Wood’s theatrical adaptation remains popular, playing across the UK.’

Information from the West Yorkshire Playhouse website

watch the trailer

My Review

‘An enormous escaped rhinoceros from London Zoo has eaten James’s parents. And it gets worse! James is packed off to live with his two really horrible aunts, Sponge and Spiker. Poor James is miserable, until something peculiar happens and James finds himself on the most wonderful and extraordinary journey he could ever imagine . . .’

‘Much loved Roald Dahl’s story of a young orphaned boy who finds friends and a new family in the most bizarre way’

50 years old? This story is over 50 years old. Can you believe it? No neither can I. Roald Dahl is one of my favourite childhood authors. I have loved all his stories and until recently didn’t realise the vast amount of work he created and from his little old shed. Amazing.  His stories along with Quentin Blake’s illustrations just create a world of magic simply by open a book.

I can’t remember reading this story as a child but know the film very well, I have always loved the live action to animation film and Roald Dahl’s books suit both on paper and on-screen or in this case stage.  I’m loving having the chance to see plays this year, It makes you realise how much television and film have to spell things out, where in theatre they use puppets or in this case props to create character leaving the audience to fill in the rest.  Just like the performance of Father Christmas at the playhouse, this made me feel like a big kid, I was completely absorbed in the action. The stage was beautiful, I absolutely loved the curtain at the back, I would love that pattern in my house, the costumes and make-up were amazing, and the actors were so true to character, it was like they had jumped off the screen or page and were there in front of us as friends. By the end of it, it reminded me family is not just blood, it’s what we make it. I have so many friends that are more like family to me then most of my own. We just forget to open our eyes sometimes to what we have.

This play was not only full of action, it involved the audience, it was funny, it was sad, it held both adults and children’s attention that I’m sure you could hear a pin drop when it was quiet. The adaption from page to stage was amazing.  I’m wondering if it was the producer’s favourite book as a child, as the magic and excitement came through the story. James being treated like dirt by his aunts to finding a magic peach stone and a whole new set of friends and people to care for him. The aunts being greedy when the peach grew to a ginormous size to being squished by the peach rolling down the hill, this was one of my favourite parts, it was so inventive how they did it. But you have to go see it to find out how. And don’t forget to yell ‘hooray as it squashes them rolling down the hill’

This year I have seen some amazing plays and this one is one of my favourites, so much so I went and bought the book so I could read it during Christmas when I finish work, it also made me want to visit Roald Dahl’s museum and see where the story began.

So what you waiting for? follow this link and go see the play – follow me

Further reading

Visit the Official Roald Dahl Website, which is packed with information and up to date news from the World of Roald Dahl.

some interesting links to the play http://www.davidwood.org.uk/latest_news.htm

http://www.davidwood.org.uk/plays/plays_james_and_the_giant_peach.htm

and the book being 50 years old here

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