James and the Giant Peach

Date 15th November 2019
Society Rainham Theatrical Society (RTS Ltd)
Venue Oasthouse Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Faye Wyatt
Producer Jan Wyatt

Report

Author: Cheryl Marksford

The combination of Roald Dahl and David Wood is bound to make for a successful show. They both focus on children’s humour and there is always plenty of action to keep the attention focused. The director, Faye Wyatt, had added a few well-chosen physical theatre pieces to pad out the show and these were short and sweet and didn’t detract from the story.

To depict all the different scenes in this story is not easy but set designers Kathy and Ian West kept it simple with some super specialised pieces including moving buildings! Along with the use of very clever props by Sam Knight (I loved the jellyfish) and suitable projections throughout, it worked really well.  The pace of the production wasn’t always in sync throughout with some pregnant pausing but every effort was made to get the most out of the script. The lighting added to the atmosphere effectively and the costumes were appropriate for each character giving them all a real sense of individuality.

Thomas Healy as James did a great job portraying a young orphan boy. His ability to enter into a child’s world was very convincing and he passed his enthusiasm onto the rest of the cast. He handled such a major role well and confidently manoeuvred his way through the production.

James ends up in the care of his two cruel Aunts after his parents are killed by a rhinoceros which was utterly fabulous. Will Buchanan as Aunt Sponge and Layla Giles as Aunt Spiker were very amusing with their constant bickering. Will showed moments of excellence but first night nerves got the better of him at times. Layla performed effortlessly showing great stage presence and I only wish she had been on stage longer. I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

James acquires some new friends when he accidentally spills a magic potion onto a peach tree in the garden. This results in a giant peach big enough live in and some giant sized insects who befriend him. Conor Whittaker took on the role of a rather camp but wise Grasshopper. He had an obvious ability to perform comedy and wasn’t afraid to play to the audience. This young man has a bright future in front of him.

There was a centipede with lots of boots played with a relaxed air by Oli Allen, a very attractive spider played by Lilia Micallef whose face lit up the stage, a very miserable worm in the shape of Sam Buckles, and a lovely ladybird played by Amy Miller. All these five individuals were well cast and their characters gave us lots of laughs throughout the show. They were helped along their way by some wonderful seagulls and finally arrived for a new life in New York. There was a strong supporting cast in other roles throughout and well done to them all as you could hear every word they said.

There was a real company ethic shown during this amusing production and some clear choral work was produced throughout. It was lovely to see the younger members of the company putting their all into the production and it was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening.

Well done to everyone involved. The future is safe in your hands.