Grannies With Guns

Oddly enough, Grannies with Guns is kind of an anti-Matilda. A group of feisty, charming old people are opposed by a care worker who hates the elderly, played by a man portraying a woman. But instead of songs embracing the joys of childhood individualism, Z Theatre’s production grounds its humour by setting the unusual protagonists within a superhero framework. A generally high-quality of performance and dialogue makes Grannies with Guns an entertaining ride, but issues both narrow and broad keep it from being more than a routine comedy.

A generally high-quality of performance and dialogue makes Grannies with Guns an entertaining ride, but issues both narrow and broad keep it from being more than a routine comedy

Despite the fact that Grannies with Guns features, well, grannies, it’s performed by a university company. This necessitates two things: impressions, and costume. For the most part the actors successfully pull off their aged characters, with hunched backs, slowed movements, and voices silly enough to be funny without grating. Stephanie Newell appears to struggle in her role, finding it difficult to portray someone older and male, especially opposite Nathan Hall’s convincing and entertaining portrayal of antagonist Angie McDoom.

Regarding the production side of the performance, the old age makeup is very solid: I spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out how old the actors were underneath. And the costumes are excellent, conveying their characters while covering up anything else that might betray their youth.

Other technical elements lacked that same strength. Sound effects are used often, but the sound quality is abysmal. It’s little comfort to suppose that this is due to the venue, but maybe narration, at least, would be better off delivered live from backstage.

Speaking of the venue, Fringe venues often have stages at the same level as the seats, because they’re not stages, but different parts of a room. This causes sightline problems in a number of Fringe shows. But when all your main characters are old people, who tend to hunch, and sit down a lot, those problems are exasperated.

Finally, a note on the writing. Grannies with Guns: pretty funny. A lot of the jokes are, if not innovative, well-handled and delivered. I bought in. But as you might expect, a lot of the humour comes from the identity of the characters, and the ‘old people behaving like normal people, doing things like swearing and having sex’ sponge was squeezed a bit too tightly.

Grannies with Guns is a qualified success. It tells a complete story, with a solid number of jokes and a talented team. But there are more qualifications on that success than I would have liked to see.

Reviews by Bennett Bonci

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The Blurb

How do three pensioners and a teenager become an awesome league of super heroes? Simple. These OAPs are on a mission. A mission which requires them to become badass, when one of their own mysteriously disappears. It’s no picnic being old, you know. When going to the toilet is a mammoth undertaking and you can’t chew anything thicker than porridge. Plus it’s made even worse when you’re imprisoned in a care home with a demonic, severely ageist head care worker. So pull on your super suit, and let’s kick some oppressive, money-grabbing, privatised healthcare ass!