The magic of this production started with the cup of sweets at the entrance foyer, and continued inside as some of the characters came in and sat in the auditorium ahead of the show starting, ready to be introduced by the Narrator – a clever device.
The Narrator himself, Noah Lovell, was just the right mix of story teller and observer, and through him we met the main characters in this well known tale of a boy, an eccentric and…well, chocolate!
The Bucket family only featured towards the beginning but established the inventive use of set which continued throughout, taking us from their home to, and into, the amazing Factory itself where we saw rivers of chocolate being piped into other areas, rode in a boat and an elevator and experienced each of the disasters that befell the unlucky – or undeserving – children, leaving our hero Charlie to inherit Willy Wonka’s empire. Fantastic set design and construction!
The children were ably presented by Peter Lovell who nailed Augustus Gloop’s German accent perfectly; Ellie Wardle who was delightfully awful as Verucca Salt; Willow Samuel as Violet Beauregarde, whose transformation into a blueberry was a highlight, and Edan Coe as a gun toting convincingly American Mike Teevee – who ended up morphing into an Action Man doll – a wonderful contrivance.
Several of the older actors took on more than one role. Brennan Coe was suitably downtrodden as Mr Bucket and made a wonderfully pompous Mr Salt; Silas Blevins combined the aged Grandpa George and the younger Yankee Mr Teevee, while Beth Witham, having lain in bed as Grandma Josephine, became a delightfully maternal Mrs Gloop, forever wiping sticky sweet marks off her son. Reannon Potts combined the motherly Mrs Bucket with the show off Mrs Teevee, producing an Ipad every time the group stopped, just so her offspring could carry on watching TV. The parents were completed by Laureen Doncaster and Ebony Taylor as Mrs Salt and Mrs Beauregarde respectively, and all were convincing adults.
Grandpa Joe, played by Oliver Glanville, was amazingly believable as an old man – so much so that I gasped at his leaping dance at the end! He was a lovely, caring foil for Simon Apsey who, in the title role, managed to be cute and good and engage the audience’s empathy. He was also a fantastic foil for the gangling Willy Wonka, portrayed with aplomb by Ben Glanville, who dominated the stage as he pranced across it, definitely in charge!
No production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would be complete without the Oompa-Loompas, and despite being played by some of the youngest members of the cast, they almost stole the show as they paraded on after the demise of each child to gleefully tell us how it happened – the routines were beautifully choreographed, and well done to Jodie Adinall, Daisy-Boo Chapman, Ines Dali, Orla Gibbins, Olivia-Mae Gurney and Leo Saltaformaggio – I really enjoyed your performances!
South Wight Theatre Group pride themselves on encouraging members to be involved in all aspects of theatre, so it was great to note other members working in production, lighting and sound, and all in all the efforts of cast and crew made for a hugely enjoyable show – complete with giant squirrel dumping Verucca in the bin! The audience were still laughing as they left and I look forward to the next SWTG show.
Oh, and they’re looking for new members and adult helpers too if you’re interested in being involved in their next show – and if it’s anything like this one it should be tremendous fun!