This is a marvelous tribute to Roald Dahl, and in particular his extraordinary, inventive and imaginative command of the English language – despite a rather contrary beginning when a boy.
The radiant Elise McCann takes us on a delightful journey through the life of Roald Dahl, heightened and punctuated by respective songs relative to Dahl and his work.
Written by McCann and Richard Carroll, directed by Ben Gerrard, with Musical Arrangements by Stephen Amos under the wonderful Musical Direction of Michael Tyack, this is a piece of magical theatre. It complements and enlightens Dahl’s unique perspective of the world, as well as the personal challenges faced by himself and his family. This embraces and contrasts the imaginative fun of such works as Willy Wonka with Dahl’s revolutionary vision and determination to help his wife, Academy Award winner Patricia Neal, after she suffered a severe stroke in 1965.
Rather than mere storytelling, Elise McCann and her collaborators time and again poignantly reveal personal and all too human aspects of Dahl’s life, making him endearing as well as heroic. Dahl was a chocaholic – Elise McCann, placing this addiction in an historical context, deliciously reveals that the 1930s was the ‘golden age’ of Chocolate; a decade that produced for the first time ‘Flakes’, “Mars Bars’, ‘Aero Bars’, and many more that are still devoured today. This obsession naturally led to Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka).
Furthermore, with the musical adaptation of Dahl’s Matilda currently playing in the next theatre, this delightful and charming tribute to Dahl is a terrific complement, adding a ‘Dahlesque’ magic to this year’s festival.
Photo: Harvey House Productions. Graphic design by Mils Achi & Jeff Van De Zandt.