This year’s Christmas show at the Maddermarket Theatre is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story GEORGE’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE. With a script by acclaimed children’s playwright Stuart Paterson, this wonderful, magical production from director Peter Sowerbutts perfectly captures Dahl’s childlike playfulness and wicked sense of humour, working on multiple levels, both young and old.
The Maddermarket cast is particularly strong, led by the enthusiastic and bubbly Charlie Frazer as George, who easily convinces the audience to completely forget that he isn’t 8 years old, as he brings them into his madcap scheme against his wicked, evil Grandma. Supporting him in his crazy plan is the exuberant Daniel Fridd as George’s Dad, bringing energy and excitement to the stage with his swinging arms and flamboyant performance, wringing out every drop of comedy from the script.
Joining them is the excellent Harriet Waterhouse as George’s Mum, desperately trying to hold the family together as the bizarre consequences to George’s plan get more and more out of control. However the show is absolutely stolen by the hilarious Dawn Brindle as the wicked and demanding Grandma, clearly relishing every moment dominating initially just George, but eventually the entire house and everyone in it!
The creative special effects throughout the show were imaginative and fun, bringing the story to life in unexpected ways, with elongated OAPs, chickens becoming suddenly disproportionate, and walls crashing down around the characters ears. Indeed, the set was a character in itself, cleverly simple and child-like in design, evoking the book’s original illustrations by Quentin Blake.
In short, George’s Marvellous Medicine is a delight. Although clearly not a pantomime, the performers create enough of a palpable connection with the audience so that they feel comfortable to shout out their responses to the events of the play, which adds to the family atmosphere. Ostensibly a children’s show, George’s Marvellous Medicine is a charming and delightful production, ideal for the whole family, and appealing to the child in everyone.