Bedknobs and Broomsticks has flown into Salford with a show that is off the charts when it comes to creativity.
I remember the film as a child, especially the cartoon world they enter and I thought, how are they going to recreate that! But they do! It’s theatrical trickery at its best.
If you haven’t seen the 1971 Disney movie, then you must.
I think it’s currently on Disney plus! Three siblings evacuate the big smoke and are housed with a peculiar women called Eglantine Price. They soon find out she’s an apprentice witch in the pursuit of a spell to stop a German invasion. And so, begins a magical hunt that takes her and the children into a new world with the help of an enchanted bed knob.
The production and costume design is outstanding. There is an antique and damaged feel to everything that compliments the difficult 1940s era they are living in. And even though it is happening during a very scary time, the war is referenced sensitively and doesn’t take away from this exciting adventure.
There are some real showstopping moments.
Obviously, the flying broomstick and of course, the illuminated double bed soaring across the stage. But it’s the puppetry that stunned me.
From a full-sized lion to the sweetest bear and gobby fish to a frantic bird, the sheer amount of character they gave these animals was jaw dropping. I only wish they were on stage for longer.
All of the cast are captivating but Dianne Pilkington as Eglantine Price was especially magnificent. Suitably quirky and genuinely endearing with an addictive rasp in her voice. Definitely fan-girling over here.
There really was something comforting about the music but I wouldn’t say I left the theatre singing along. They’re not catchy tunes other than ‘Portobello Road’ and ‘A Step in the Right Direction’, which really captured me. And for a family friendly production, I would argue the running time needs shaving. From an explosive start to the second act, it soon slowed and I felt it needed some editing.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is no doubt a magical experience. The theatrical innovation is wonderous to see and will wow any audience member.
Playing at The Lowry in Salford until Saturday 19 March 2022. On tour following that.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson