Review: James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl, adapted by David Wood, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until May 21

James and the Giant Peach, a fun family show for youngsters and the young at heart, which is at the

James and the Giant Peach, a fun family show for youngsters and the young at heart, which is at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Roald Dahl knew exactly what entertained, not only the young, but also the young at heart and this latest stage adaptation of his one of his most memorable works is just the ticket for family audiences.

James and the Giant Peach, a fun family show for youngsters and the young at heart, which is at the

James and the Giant Peach, a fun family show for youngsters and the young at heart, which is at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

It’s fast, it’s funny, it’s irreverent and there’s a lot of audience participation if you feel like cheering our heroes on their way. It’s a simple show, directed with imagination and real verve by Bronagh Lagan, and allows the actors to really engage with their audience.

The New Wolsey has long had a crusade to get cross-generational audiences into the theatre. They have had success with teenage and older audiences, particularly with the rock’n’roll panto and shows based on school texts, but this will prove a winner for families with pre-teen children.

Ewan Goddard makes for a suitably likeable and heroic James and swiftly wins our sympathy as he is put upon by his two horrible aunts Aunt Sponge (Grace Bishop) and Aunt Spiker (Max Gallagher).

He is rescued from his life of drudgery by a mysterious stranger carrying a bag of magic bugs which enables him to grow a giant peach and embark, with an array of friendly insects, on a mad-cap sea voyage to America.


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Along the way there are attacks by sharks, deep-sea rescues, airlifts by seagulls and a collection of toe-tapping songs to keep young audiences engaged. Crucially it’s also not too long, clocking in at just under 90 minutes including the interval.

If you want to introduce young children to the magic of theatre then this is a great way to do it and who knows the parents will probably find themselves getting caught up in the action as well.

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A genuine family treat.

Andrew Clarke

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