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Saturday, June 23, 2018


(Claire Mortimer, Lyle Buxton, Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande, Belinda Henwood, 
Bryan Hiles (inside the giant) & Daisy Spencer)

My 6 year-old grandson’s response: “Everything was my favourite part. When can I come and see it again?” (Review by Keith Millar)

The trouble with trying to write sensible reviews about the constantly imaginative and innovative productions staged by the KickstArt Theatre Company is that one is inclined to run out of superlatives by the end of the second paragraph.

In reporting on the dazzling, charming and breath-taking production of Roald Dahl’s whimsical story, The BFG, I find myself wanting to use all the superlatives I can conjure up right off the bat.

It is an enchanting production. Captivating, creative, funny, uncomplicated, magical and, most of all, very, very entertaining.

Roald Dahl’s quirky children’s stories have long been a staple reading diet in my family. Firstly read to my own children and now with equal relish to my grandchildren.

So it was with great delight that I was able to take six year old Landon to see this production of The BFG.

Here are some of his reactions to the play. Firstly, he gave me the following précis of the story.

“So, when a little girl (Sophie) saw the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) blowing dreams into windows he had to put her into his pocket and take back with him to giant land. They travelled far across the world and over oceans.
In giant land there were bad giants who liked eating little children. They also bullied the BFG.
So Sophie and the BFG travelled to the palace and after giving the Queen a nightmare about giants eating children, they explained to her the problem.
She sent her army to capture the giants and put them in a big hole in the ground from where they could never escape.
The BFG and all the children from the orphanage were then invited to stay with the Queen in her palace forever”

Then during and after the production he had the following to say. “The BFG is super cool”. The bad giants eating children was said to be “really scary”. The school teacher doing a mad dance in a child’s dream was “very super funny”. The puppets - “I like them, can I have one?”

Now for the observations from the 70 year-old grandfather.

Bryan Hiles is the BFG. Hiles has put in many memorable and acclaimed performances in KickstArt productions before. However, on this occasion he surpasses everything that I have seen him do in the past and performs on a whole new level. He is absolutely superb in the role – and how he memorised the dialogue where every sentence is in convoluted English and contains at least a couple of gobbledegook words is beyond remarkable.

Belinda Henwood as the young girl Sophie is cute and sassy. She excels at operating her puppet self while delivering her lines at the same time.

Daisy Spencer puts in a supreme comic performance as the dancing school teacher in a little girl’s dream. It is fall-off-your chair funny. She also displays her wonderful comedy timing as the Queen’s maid Mary.

The rest of the cast, Claire Mortimer, Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande and Lyle Buxton are absolutely charming and exuberant as they play multiple roles, operate all the puppets, move sets about and seem to have an enormous amount of fun in the process.

Greg King is the director and designer of this production which displays all the hallmarks of his award-winning work. King has won much acclaim for his work over the years and deservedly so. The BFG is right up there with his best.

Another award-winning theatre practitioner involved in this production is lighting guru Tina Le Roux. Her work on this production is memorable. From the beautiful backdrop of twinkling stars to the ethereal dreams which float about and which the BFG giant captures and places in bottles for later use.

So, how are normal size people and giants portrayed together on stage? While without giving away too many spoilers, let me just refer to the above-mentioned puppets (beautifully created by Wendy Henstock), and to two different-sized sets, exquisitely imagined and created by King.

There is much to rave about with this glorious production but suffice it to say that I highly recommend that you don’t miss it - and take the kids. If you don’t have any borrow some. It is a wonderful experience seeing all the magic through their eyes.

I leave the last word to six year-old Landon. When asked at the end what his favourite part was, he said: “Everything was my favourite part. When can I come and see it again?”

The BFG runs until July 8, 2018, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with shows  on Tuesdays to Fridays and Sundays at 14h30 and on Saturday at 11h00 and 15h00. Tickets from R135 to R195 and are available from Computicket. – Keith Millar