A very first
Last week I had the pleasure of watching West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production of The Witches. I remember reading my first Roald Dahl book, ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ as a child. I knew then I would read all of them. His writing was like a breath of fresh air. What a brilliant brain to write such fantastical stories. Pure imagination you might call it. So off I popped to this children’s play, alone, as a grown up. You can mock all you like, but I’m a big kid at heart.
A very curious sight
The foyer was buzzing with young children. Theatre was a luxury trip my parents could never have afforded back in the day, so it was heartwarming to see so many kids excited about the show. As I entered the Courtyard theatre, a colourful mish mash of props filled the stage. Bunting lined the auditorium. And boy do I love bunting. It brightens up any day, don’t you think? The room was smaller than the Quarry Theatre, so a perfect venue for little ones. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this show was little. It sure packed a bang. Or three.
A very magical mayhem
It was a very simple tale. A brave boy, along with his sassy grandmother, battled against the evil Witches who were (physically) itching to rid the world of every single child. Luckily this production captured the magic with some well thought out tricks. Like shooting mice across the sky or ‘transforming’ humans using snazzy pyrotechnics. And the Grand High Witch, the up-most magical being, was a very vile Vitch indeed. This made clear through her evil stares, a curling top lip and rotten accent. Her sky-high operatic voice felt like it could cut glass and confirmed her command over her fellow Witches, who were a comical bunch of misfits.
A very well spent evening
The show had bounds of energy, no doubt matching the electric energy coming from the children. Treats came in the form of musical numbers and surprising acrobatics from a clearly very talented cast. The production nicely tethered on the edge of scary in parts, giving justice to Dahl’s picture of a Witch ‘without mercy’. A small boy in the front row was practically burrowed into his mother’s chest from fright. And it did bring to life the text we all know so very well. So in my books, it was the perfect family show that entertained an audience full of little minds with big imaginations.
Watch the vlog of my trip on my Youtube channel from Friday 27th January!
Browse the West Yorkshire Playhouse website for future children’s productions. They always schedule great shows! https://www.wyp.org.uk/