There’s no one quite like Roald Dahl for children. Today he remains a favourite on the bookshelves of many children. Given the popularity of Dahl’s stories, it’s not surprising that this show was sold out. The young cast from Eltham college present a fun, colourful version of the tale, whisking us along with James on his adventure in an insect-inhabited giant peach.
However, there was a fair amount of stumbling over lines and occasionally flat storytelling but given how young the cast are this is forgivable. For the most part, the cast adopted their eccentric personas with energy and there were a few standout performances. Arran Khanna in particular steals the show as the pesky centipede who proudly declares at every moment ‘I’m a pest.’ He certainly drew the most laughs from the crowd and his comic timing was great. Similarly, Ruari Paterson and Finley Baldwin were terrifically comical as the mean Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. This is commendable considering their pantomime costumes are really quite dreadful.
The play remains faithful to Dahl’s original story, with two narrators throughout. Whilst they don’t always completely engage the audience, they tell the story with great clarity. Many of Dahl’s hilarious rhymes are also kept throughout the play and though a bit more energy could have been put into these rhymes, it was still delightful to hear them performed.
Where was the peach though? Given the amateur nature of this production, it would have been easy for them to create a less-than-juicy looking peach. Instead, we are asked to use our imaginations as the cast pretend to sail away in the gigantic peach. Invisible peach it may have been, but I’m sure it still tasted juicy to the kids in the audience.
It may not be the ripest peach in the bunch but it’s harmless good fun from a cast of budding young thespians who seem to have no problem filling seats.