Like the reviewer below me, I entered the red doors of the OFS knowing full well that what I would be watching would not be a technical tour de force: it would be foolish to even attempt such a thing in the cosy studio space. However, I do not believe that a 'bare bones' studio piece has to sacrifice quality, and this production did exactly that. This show was terrible.
The set was embarassingly bad, the filmed sections abysmal, and the less said about the singing the better.
I am not normally one to give such damning criticism, but the production was completely devoid of any creative skill, and seemed to think that this was okay as it was a children's show. From the unnecessary and obviously unrehearsed exordium, right through to the baffling underwater fight (at least that's what I think it was.) - the company seemed to be doing everything possible to remove any kind of tension or excitement from the piece.
I will not go into individual performances, as I believe the actors really were doing their best to rescue this diabolical production, but unfortunately the director had simply done too much damage for this to be saved.
As I was leaving, feeling decidedly glum, a boy said to his mother "I don't want to come to a theatre show ever again, mummy." ...need I say any more?
Samantha Downing (Unverified), 19/02/10
As you enter the red doors of the studio on George Street the sign outside still reads OFS even if a number of the reviews here thought the £8 ticket said "West End Prodution starring Daniel Radcliff as James".
The group tackled a script that even a seasoned prodution team would find hard to translate for the stage and showed what can be done with a limited amount of money, time and resources.
The actors took to their tasks with excitement and joy (bar earthworm but we can forgive her for that). Miss Spider the standout but (our female?) James and Grasshopper also creating ripples of laughter throughout the play.
Arguably the set was slightly underwhelming and a number of scenes could have done with further investigation when analysising the impact they were meant to have had - specifically the catching of the seagulls and killing of the squid. However the centre-piece was big and orange and the costumes bright and distinctive which was exactly what was called for.
Howard (Unverified), 19/02/10
It's years since I visited the Old Fire Station Theatre but having returned to my hometown of Oxford to visit family this week, my sister asked me to take my niece to see the stage version of one of her favourite films - James and the Giant Peach.
Within minutes of the performance starting and to my horror it was clear that these were adults performing on the very shoddy playschool standard set which attempted to showcase a poorly constructed peach... or roundish object.
With a lacklustre range of shallow and rather patronising performances from the group I couldn't help but feel sorry for my niece who by this time had witness this classic piece 'rot to the core'.
I can't say anything stood out as even being of professional standard. Perhaps the part of the Spider played by Hannah Nicholas had some zing. With additions of painful pieces of music/song and some strange film clips this is certainly not a bargain at any price.
Sadly inconsistent and dull this is a waste of any theatre space and no doubt Roald Dahl would be 'turning in his grave' as the phrase goes.
A sad return to what was once a decent little theatre with good entertainment!
Nikki Webber (Unverified), 18/02/10
I am still struggling to understand how this production was allowed to be staged. Surely someone at the OFS must have seen this show before it was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public?
The set was a strange mix of unnecessary inflatable toys, and superfluous flower arrangements. The eponymous peach consisted of two poorly constructed shell structures - one of which appeared to have collapsed in on itself. The child sitting next to me declared to her mum in the interval "That doesn't look anything like a peach." and I'm sorry to say that I agreed with her.
The acting was, on the whole, never more than mediocre; though there were one or two exceptions.
Helena King played both Aunt Spiker and the Earthworm with excellent comic timing, and Gemma Steele did an admirable job of playing James (Though it did take me a while to reconcile with the fact that James was quite clearly a girl.)
There were several other parts of the show that were toe-curlingly terrible - most notably the filmed sections and the singing - but my real issue with this show was the direction, or lack thereof.
I'm unsure of what Tom Howard did to earn his title, but I certainly didn't see any evidence of direction in the long hour I spent in that studio. It's truly a shame, as I believe that there was an exciting script in there somewhere. However, the director appears to have destroyed any chance these actors had of creating an exciting and interesting piece of ensemble theatre.
Instead we were left with an incoherent, and boring production that appealed to neither children or adults.
CTYT (Unverified), 17/02/10
Due to a problem with the programmes on the first night, we have been asked to publish this cast information for James and the Giant Peach.
Director: Tom Howard
James: Gemma Steele / Josh Chaplin
Aunt Sponge/Ladybird: Samantha Young
Aunt Spiker/Earthworm: Helena King
Old Green Grasshopper: Josh Mullet-Sadones
Centipede/Captain: Gavin Moore
Miss Spider/Tour Guide: Hannah Nicholas
Television Presenter/Officer 1/Mrs Trotter: Charlotte Mitchell
News Reporter/Officer 2: Mark Williams
Mr Trotter: Tom Howard
OFS / DI (Unverified), 17/02/10
I went to see James and the Giant Peach last night (Tuesday, opening night). As someone who rarely goes to the theatre I wasn’t sure what to expect of the venue or the show, but was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it.
I’d heard about the show via Twitter [! - Ed] and the first thing I should have considered is that, being based on a Dahl book, there’d be a lot of children there. As someone with no kids, it was a bit of a shock, but at least my view of the stage wasn’t spoilt by tall people being sat in front of me!
I thought the show itself was well put together, and the cast and crew have done a good job of making it really entertaining. The few cast each have several different roles, so it’s good to see them in their different guises (for example, the excellent Aunt Spiker quickly becomes an equally excellent grumpy slug!).
The venue is quite cosy and the show and props make good use of the space, but don’t expect a full-on West End stage extravaganza. You’ve got to use your imagination a bit along the way, which is all part of the fun.
All in all – if you’ve got kids and are at a loose end this half term I’d thoroughly recommend going and seeing this play. My marks - 9/10
@pj_kent (Unverified), 17/02/10
The Roald Dahl classic about a boy, a peach and a bunch of critters in search of adventure does not immediately sound like an easy story to adapt for the theatre. The giant peach spends a good deal of time at sea, being towed through the air by seagulls; many of the main characters are giant bugs – it wouldn’t be my first choice out of Dahl’s multitude of children’s stories to re-work for the stage, but David Wood has done it and, as always, done it brilliantly.
The story opened in New York with a tourist guide taking her group to see a house in Central park, which was made from a giant peach stone. James stepped out of the house and took over the story from there, telling the audience about his parents’ tragic death at the horns of a bad-tempered rhino (Dahl did seem to have a macabre fondness for orphaning children in his books); his time spent with his two aunts (who were supposedly acting in loco parentis but in true pantomime style were wicked to the core); the mysterious stranger who gifted James a bag of wriggling green lights with the promise that they were magic; the peach that grew to the size of a small planet and the wonderful bunch of animal friends who were waiting for James inside it.
The set design worked perfectly, making the most of the limited space at the OFS. The giant peach took centre stage and was easily turned around to reveal the inside of the stone where James’ new friends – the grasshopper, ladybird, worm, centipede and spider were all waiting for him. All the creatures were a joy to watch in their colourful costumes and they all had great comic timing, but the woeful worm and the giddy grasshopper were my particular favourites.
An unforeseen treat was the music – I didn’t realise there would be songs in the show, but quite a few little ditties had been written for the occasion and they worked really well. It was slightly surprising to see a very obvious girl playing the role of James, but the children in the audience did not seem to notice, they were having a great time and one tiny little girl close to me kept shouting out “this is really funny, Daddy”, and it was – well worth seeing.
Judith Davies (DI Reviewer), 17/02/10
This was a great disappointment. It didn't work either for the children we brought or the adults. It seemed to be entirely lacking in either creativity or stagecraft. With two exceptions (the spider and the grasshopper) the acting ranged from poor to dreadful. Direction appeared almost non-existent and the set was hopelessly designed and very poorly made. The production somehow managed to deflate all the dramatic moments in what should have been an exciting story.
I'm amazed that they believed it was ready to show: it all seemed slapdash and half-finished. Sorry!
NoShow (Unverified), 17/02/10
Ads by Daily Info:
Browse ads by tag:
Review of the Day