Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre always has a Christmassy feel to it, with its gilded pillars and Arabian Nights ceiling, and this enchanting adaptation feels like an early Christmas present. It lacks the usual Dahl edginess but makes up for it in fantastical and imaginative interpretation that is safe for all the family. The Lyceum wholly embraces this family-friendly production of the much loved Roald Dahl story, deftly adapted by David Wood to make the most of the BFG’s linguistic playfulness. The fun started before the audience even filed into the auditorium, with Quentin Blake illustrations to colour and brown paper tags (to label your offspring?) for the chiddlers (children) and a bar list that expanded on the theme with grapety-goodness (wine) and tummy hugger (beer) drinks for the grown ups. Even the programme was oversized and included essential recipes for Snozzcumber and Frobscottle.
It is Christmas after all - the season we are encouraged to indulge in sweet treats - and the audience was truly appreciative of this bubbly adaptation executed with well-choreographed energy. As flumptious as a cosy fireside bedtime story.
The main character of Sophie was played with perky effervescence by Robyn Milne, whose skillful puppeteering brought to life the soft toy effigy. Claire Knight’s queen brought the most chuckles (and possibly a few sighs of“If only she were really like that, I might have voted No…”) and the rest of the ensemble entertained with a fair few characters each, plus their more than competent musical abilities. But it was Lewis Howden as the gentle, vegetarian, dream-blowing BFG who stole the show with whizzpopping (farting) to rival Blazin’Saddles.
Taking the form of a story within a story (much like Dahl himself often did) enabled the cast to have fun with the dressing-up box. The set was a kind of oversized doll house used in carousel fashion to depict different scenes to great effect. It was reminiscent of a Sylvanian Families starter home with an Ikea twist; all pale wood and bright fabrics. Indeed, the nasty giants looked colourful and cuddly in their bespoke onesies and not really scary at all. The playful musical interludes were all of well-known nursery songs and Christmas songs but it would have been better if the audience had been invited to sing along. All this wholesome-ness however, didn’t leave a saccharine aftertaste. It is Christmas after all - the season we are encouraged to indulge in sweet treats - and the audience was truly appreciative of this bubbly adaptation executed with well-choreographed energy. As flumptious as a cosy fireside bedtime story.
To let the younger audience members have the last word, Broadway Baby Reviewer age 10 said, “The actors really brought the story to life.”Rocky, age 12 said, “The whizzpoppers were the best,”and his sister Hannah, 13 said, “I liked what they did with the book.”