Bristol Hippodrome

Awful Auntie

May 2018

They said the F-word 'fart'


The Bristol Hippodrome was awash with bathroom humour on Tuesday night for the opening of the Birmingham Stage Company production of Awful Auntie.
The theatre was full of primary school aged children (and their parents and teachers) all laughing out loud at the plethora of ‘rude’ jokes.
Poo, maggots and other unmentionable muck caused much hilarity among the juniors especially when the actors actually said the filthy F-word, FART, several times.
Auntie played by Shakespearean actor Timothy Speyer is really, really, awful but I liked her!
The show includes plenty of slapstick and pantomime jokes mixed with a chilling children’s story – a weird and wonder comedy of horrors.
Set in the 1930s motorbike rider Auntie Alberta is a German sympathiser who hand-rears a big baby owl called Wagner (Roberta Bellekon) to become her flunky spy-in-the-sky.
Alberta wears a deerstalker in the mode of a Viking warrior (allegedly), Plus fours and a ghastly red wig – she is a cross between the formidable Clarissa Dickson Wright, of Two Fat Ladies fame, and saliva generous Timothy Spall, star of Auf Wiedersehen Pet.
The aunt’s idea of feeding a paralysed child is to get the owl to swallow a diet of yucky beetles and bugs followed by a main course of mice, shrews and other field mammals then regurgitate the meal straight into the young patient’s mouth.
The set is amazing – four revolving wooden turrets with secret passages leading to a touch-the-heavens tower to depict a stately home set in rural England.
Extreme weather changes, ghostly goings-on, motorised vehicles and child abandonment issues are all covered in this scary story of poisonous japes and jolly juvenile jokes centering around inheritance matters which involve bumping off your nearest and dearest.
And in true Peter Pan-style don’t grow up as the magic is all lost when you reach 13-years.
Sometimes as the cast moved rooms it reminded me of Cluedo although the game of choice is tiddlywinks involving small counters being suppressed by larger ones!
This does have echoes of a Sherlock Holmes detective story (Peter Mistyyoph) but whodunnit is never much in doubt. 
Down in the creepy cellar Dickensian character Soot (Ashley Cousins) who played ‘tall boy’ in Billy Elliot comes ‘alive’ after being lost up a chimney. 
He is brilliant and loved the London lingo which would put Dick Van Dyck to shame.
Initially mummified by bandages posh Rolls Royce crash victim Stella, played by Georgina Leonidas who was a child actor in Les Misérables, vocalises her upper crust vowels - she is utterly amazing especially given she is on stage all the time.
While there is no singing or dancing Ashley and Georgina’s agility is truly commendable as they negotiate secret passages and icy lakes with stealth inspired movements.
Loved the creepy butler (Richard James) straight out of The Munsters with comic Max Wall moves and the miniature puppet clones in the chase scenes - LOL.
You expect the best from the people who bought you the Horrible Histories series and this is what you get – catch the show before it ends its Bristol run on Saturday.
I will add I would hate to meet author David Walliams in a dark alley one night as his imagination is truly awful!!

Carol Deacon and Brooke Middleton

If you read the book you will know she is an Awful Auntie

PREVIEW: A best-selling child’s book is coming to the Bristol Hippodrome stage this week.

Birmingham Stage Company is currently touring David Walliams’ Awful Auntie which plays from Tuesday to Saturday, May 1-6 at the city centre theatre.

The paperback was the top children’s paperback of 2016.

The production follows the BSC’s record-breaking tour of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny which recently finished a sell-out 50-week tour of the UK.

The show began a new tour in February before it transfers to the West End for a summer season at The Garrick.

David Walliams said: "The Birmingham Stage Company's Gangsta Granny is truly brilliant, so

I’m hugely excited that they’re now bringing Awful Auntie to the stage.

It promises to be a thrilling show and a total hoot - Wagnar the owl and I can’t wait to see it!”

Awful Auntie was published in September 2014 and went to No.1 in the children’s book chart for seven weeks.

The paperback was published in February 2016 and sold 212,000 copies, making it the best-selling

children’s paperback of the year.

Combined sales of the hardback and paperback have reached more than a million copies.

It has helped to make Walliams one of the country’s best-selling children’s authors, with four of

his books charting in the 2016 children’s top 10t.

They have also been translated into more than 50 languages, bringing worldwide sales to 16.7


Walliams began his publishing career at Harper Collins in 2008 with his debut novel The Boy In The Dress.

Since then he has written nine more books plus five picture books.

Three of his books have won National Children’s Book Awards.

Awful Auntie tells the story of Stella, who when she sets off to visit London with her parents has no idea her life is in danger.

Waking up from a coma three months later, only her Aunt Alberta can tell Stella what has happened.

But not everything Aunt Alberta tells her turns out to be true and Stella quickly discovers she’s in for the fight of her life against her very own awful Auntie.

David Williams’ amazing tale of frights, fights and friendship features a very large owl, a very small ghost and a very awful Auntie!

Awful Auntie will mark the Birmingham Stage Company’s 25th anniversary.

Starting life at The Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham, the company’s productions now regularly visit Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore.

For 12 years they have produced all the Horrible Histories stage shows which now regularly feature in the West End.

Their sixth anniversary at The Garrick this summer will feature More Best of Barmy Britain.

Families around the country will not want to miss Awful Auntie, which promises to be awfully thrilling fun for everyone aged five plus.

For tickets call the box office on 0844 871 3012 or book online by clicking HERE.