National Operatic & Dramatic Association
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James and the Giant Peach


20th December 2017


Cambridge Theatre Company


Great Hall, The Leys

Type of Production



Sarah Ingram


Author: Julie Petrucci

The combination of Roald Dahl and David Wood is bound to make for a successful show. This rather dark tale of orphaned boy James Trotter and his adventures with a giant peach plus assorted giant bugs is vividly brought to the stage in this imaginative adaptation by playwright David Wood.  Director Sarah Ingram succeeded in translating the complexities of the story into something quirky, with a little imagination and the seemingly simple yet highly effective set design by Jasmine Haskell and costumes by Liz Milway. There were some good lighting and sound effects to add to the atmosphere.

James Malpas (in the performance I saw) played James and did an excellent job. The James of the story ends up in the care of his two cruel aunts after his parents are killed by a rhinoceros. From now on, poor James’ life takes a turn for the worse as both Aunt Sponge (Helen Holgate) and Aunt Spiker (Adam Bond) turn his life into misery on daily basis. It's a great opportunity for the pair to indulge in appropriate over-the-top acting which they grasped with both hands. 

When he accidentally spills a magic potion onto a peach tree in the gardenJames acquires some new friends. This results in a giant peach big enough to live in and some giant sized insects who befriend him. 

We had a wise Grasshopper (Suzanne Emerson), a Spider (Heather Allan), a very miserable Earth Worm (Alan Hay in good form), a lovely Ladybird (Helen Holgate) and a Centipede with lots of boots (a stand out performance by Adam Bond).  These five individuals also took on all other minor roles becoming masters of the quick change routine.  

They were helped along their way by an excellent junior Ensemble who clearly narrated parts of the story and became wonderful seagulls and a threatening school of sharks before finally arriving safely for a new life in New York.  The scene where poor Earth Worm was used a bait as the sharks circled was excellent.

This was an amusing production with several moments of comedy, notably surrounding the particular vain aunts with their jealousy of each other and the miserable earthworm who laments the hopelessness of their situation. 

A short but lovely production to end a very successful season for Cambridge Theatre Company.