Awful Auntie at Richmond Theatre

Being a teacher and having children, I’m no stranger to the wacky world of David Walliams, but this darker story of Awful Auntie was one that was new to me. The story is of young Stella, told her parents had been killed in a tragic accident, who believes it may not be as accidental as it first seems. With the help of the ghost of Saxby Hall, they set off to find the truth.

Awful Auntie begins with a larger than life aunt, poo and fart jokes aplenty and looking at the open mouthed faces of the children with us, we wondered what we had let ourselves in for! However, as the show progressed we realised that this loud, brash humour was needed to balance the dark and somewhat disturbing story.

The cast of five, yes only five actors, told the story really well and did a great job portraying the larger than life and quirky characters. A particular favourite of ours was Soot, played hy Matthew Allen, the ghost. He was humorous when needed, sincere at other times and really great to watch.  The children also loved the owl, Wagner, who swoops out into the auditorium all the time controlled beautifully by on silent, yet skilled performer.

In fact, not just the owl but all of the puppetry deserves review. Those scenes which portray well on a large screens of bug budget movies; like car chases, rooftop moments, are hard to do on stage. These were cleverly done by the characters representing themselves as puppets. Very clever, well thought out and unlike anything I’ve seen on stage before.

This show truly immerses you into the world of David Walliams and his crazy characters. It allows for hard conversations, most of which we feel children need protecting from, yet when they are delivered in story, seem a lot less daunting for both adults and children. From the outset you need to be willing to embrace whatever comes your way and watch with the joy, wonder and magic that children find easy, we as adults may find slightly harder, but it’s definitely within us all. We just need to try.

Review by Katie Jinks and Karen Sweeting

Awful Auntie is on at Richmond Theatre until 12th May when it then continues its tour. You can find out more about the tour here.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Frozen, Six and Back to the Future.

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