17th December 2017
The Coach House Theatre, Malvern
Type of Production
Chris Bassett & Shelley Stewart
Author: Bruce Wyatt for Louise Hickey
This popular story by Roald Dahl, adapted for the stage by David Wood, provides a faithful representation of the weird imagination of this master of children’s writing. “The Witches” is told from the point of view of a child and features adults who hate and mistreat children and at least one ‘good’ adult to counteract the villains.
Stephanie Underwood-Webb, as MTP’s chief villain, the ‘Grand High Witch’ was outstanding. Stephanie was totally in command as the most powerful of witches, exercising control over the other witches, who were also played convincingly by Carolyn Young, Grace Price, Susan Firth, Carol Green, Jocelyn Campbell, Ann Enyon and Pauline Gotobed.
Falling into the path of the witches and turned into mice, are the youngsters ‘Boy’ and ‘Bruno Jenkins’ played by Alfie Coutts and Sam Powell respectively. Both were excellent, delivering their lines clearly and with feeling. ‘Boy‘is being cared for my his Norwegian ‘Grandmother’, played with great presence by Liz Greatwich and together they eventually and cleverly outwit all the witches.
The action moves to the Hotel Magnificent in Bournemouth, where all are staying. ‘Grandmother’ and ‘Boy’ steal some Delayed Action Mouse Maker poison from the Grand High Witch and this is secretly dropped into the witch’s supper being served up in a hilarious scene by the hotel Head and Second Chefs, played with excellent pace and fun by Andrew Howie and John Denham.
The main characters were strongly supported by the remaining cast, including the ‘Hotel Doorman’ (Chris Green), ‘Mr & Mrs Jenkins’ played by Pip Barber and Pauline Blackburn together with hotel porters, waiters and not forgetting ‘Frog’ and the mice played by some very talented dancing youngsters.
All were well dressed and the set was simple but very effective with some excellent backcloth projections to enhance the scenes, to complete this well directed production by Chris Bassett and Shelley Stewart.