CREAGH/CARR REVIEW: Gangsta Granny, MK Theatre

Gilly Tompkins as Granny and Ashley Cousins as Ben.
Gilly Tompkins as Granny and Ashley Cousins as Ben.

There’s double delight in the Creagh/Carr Review - the opinions of seasoned hackette Bev Creagh and flamboyant newshound Stewart Carr, theatre lovers both.

This is what they thought of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny at MK Theatre.

CREAGH SAYS .... After sitting through two tedious hours of unfunny drivel, my only thought was David Walliams must be the most over-rated and underwhelming talent in Britain.

I wasn’t a fan of Little Britain, but I did think Our David had a certain puckish humour, a mischievous glint to his eye that would translate well into a children’s story.

But oh, how wrong can you be?

Dear reader, if you or I had penned Gangsta Granny it would never have seen the light of day.

It would have been rightly binned and innocent audiences would not have had to endure such dreary characters, puerile humour (heavy on flatulence) and substandard script.

Good points: The set was clever and imaginative but not bright and child friendly.

There was also a very funny fat lady who did her utmost in a variety of roles – matron, dancing judge, policewoman – but her ever-increasing urgency did nothing to lift this turkey from the farm floor to the table.

At the end of the evening I felt as if I’d been injected with Botox – nary a smile, titter nor guffaw moved my frozen muscles.

CARR SAYS .... Zzzzzzzzzz... is what I think of Gangsta Granny!

At times cringey and at others dreary, this show was two hours of marked effort not to stage a critics’ walk-out.

That might sound a bit harsh, and of course as a kid’s show you do moderate your expectations - but there just wasn’t enough fun, laughter and colour to keep its school-aged audience entertained.

In Gangsta Granny, we see 11-year-old Ben (Ashley Cousins) forced to spend Friday with his ‘boring’, farty, cabbage-eating gran (Louise Bailey) while his dreadful mum and dad go ballroom dancing.

Ben hates being with his ‘boring’ gran and that’s exactly what she is for a slow half hour, until a chance discovery in a biscuit tin reveals she is in fact an international jewel thief.

That spark of discovery, followed by some of the tales Gangsta Gran regales to young Ben – is the only time the show ever really takes off.

After that, it reverts back to type with an amateurish story, non-stop farting and a mixed bag of characters.

The book by David Walliams is beautifully illustrated by Tony Ross and I expected a vivid stage full of brilliant colours - like a pantomime - to help enrapture its young audience. It was not to be unfortunately.

Safe to say this one doesn’t live up to the hype.

Gangsta Granny plays at Milton Keynes Theatre until February 13. See here for tickets.