Chitty Chitty Bang Bang @ West Yorkshire Playhouse
While West Yorkshire Playhouse always refrains from putting on pantos this production based on Ian Fleming’s classic story and of course the 1968 film is definitely a festive treat. Masterful in his direction, James Brining is not afraid to bring out some of the darker elements of the show inserted by the ever-revolting co-writer Roald Dahl. So this is an intimate and heartfelt drama that benefits from Simon Higlett’s stupendous design, full of innovation and invention, and Simon Wainwright’s immersive video projections, that carry the narrative apace.
The latter allows us to go into Chitty the car’s backstory and through seamless scene changes that create immensely joyful fun. Jon Robyns’ Caractacus Potts really grasps the role full-on, displaying his inner child as well as his madcap genius. And Amy Griffiths’ Truly Scrumptious is much more than mere love interest, adding a feminine charm to the proceedings.
The despicable due Baron and Baroness Bombhurst play out their villany with veracity, while good old stalwart and theatrical veteran Andy Hockley matches this with a wonderful warmth despite displaying being seriously bonkers. As a prop par excellence the car is insurmountable with its absolute magic. And Stephen Mear’s lives up to his worldwide fame with choreography to die for. The ensemble performance is immensely pleasing with a totally believable and endearing pair in Jeremy and Jemima. With a feel-good factor right off the range and a real roller-coaster of a ride both emotionally and visually this show will run and run as an unstoppable tour de force.
Reviewed by Rich Jevons.
Photos: Alastair Muir.