Theatre review - Awful Auntie, Live on Stage, Opera House Manchester

PUBLISHED: 13:26 21 June 2018

Awful Auntie @ Manchester Opera House 

Aunt Alberta played by Timothy Speyer 
Photo by Mark Douet

Awful Auntie @ Manchester Opera House Aunt Alberta played by Timothy Speyer Photo by Mark Douet

Photo by Mark Douet

David Walliam’s seventh children’s book, Awful Auntie, transfers to the stage well, causing great hilarity among the younger audience members, says Kate Houghton

Georgina Leonidas and Timothy Speyer in Awful Auntie @ Opera House Manchester 
Photo by Mark DouetGeorgina Leonidas and Timothy Speyer in Awful Auntie @ Opera House Manchester Photo by Mark Douet

The joy of a Walliam’s story is that they aren’t everso complicated, which makes their transfer to live theatre relatively straightforward, in terms of the tale itself, that is. Last night’s show was very well done, with simple storytelling accompanied by a very clever set, which spun and turned to create multiple locations and not a little bit of magic.

The basic premise of the story is simple: Stella is the beloved daughter of Lord and Lady Saxby but wakes up one day to discover that they have been killed in a terrible car accident and that she is now in the sole care of her aunt Alberta. As any adult can predict, Aunt Alberta turns out to be pretty horrific, with nothing less than murder on her mind, and it’s up to Stella to save her own life and her home.

Supported by a ghost of a long deceased chimney sweep’s boy and a completely batty ancient butler, Stella sets about effecting her own rescue and things, of course, don’t even go remotely to plan.

With lots of bottom references, farts, poo and wee jokes, the script taps quite precisely into what makes kids laugh. Add plenty of slapstick, regular appearances from the batty butler being, well, batty and heroics from Stella and her ghostly companion Soot, and you’re onto a surefire winner.

Timothy Speyer plays a marvellous Awful Auntie, though on occasion his speech was a little rapid fire for my youngest to keep up with. He got the ‘rude’ jokes however and there’s nothing to complain about in Speyer’s slapstick moments. Neice Stella, played by Georgina Leonidas, is suitable Blyton-esque. Perfect upper-middle class in accent and self-reliance, she demonstrates just what a girl can do when faced with a terror of an auntie hell-bent on her destruction.

An excellent show for any child who loves a good story, bottom jokes and people falling over. And show me the child who doesn’t.

Awful Auntie plays at Opera House Manchester until 24 Jun 2018

www.atgtickets.com/shows/awful-auntie/opera-house-manchester

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