The Bolds – Unicorn Theatre, London

Reviewer: James Robertson

Writer: Julian Clary

Original Director: Lee Lyford

Remount Director: Ewa Dina

Dive into the world of The Bolds, a family of cheeky hyenas living in sleepy Teddington, disguised as human beings. A wonderfully constructed and endlessly loveable production, this stage adaptation of the popular children’s book is a must-see for young ones.

Written and adapted for the stage by comedian and novelist Julian Clary, The Bolds is the Unicorn Theatre’s Christmas offering for this holiday season. Directed by Lee Lyford with songs by Clary and Simon Wallace, this production ticks all the boxes of a fun family show.

The play begins as Mr Bold (Jack Wilkinson) and Mrs Bold (Amanda Gordon) adopt the identities of a newlywed British couple while visiting their homeland of the Serengeti and then happily make their way to England in order to start their new lives. The struggle of hiding their true identities as cackling hyenas is difficult, especially when they give birth to two pups, Betty (Kandaka Moore) and Bobby (Khai Shaw). We follow this rambunctious family as they crack jokes, get into trouble and attempt a prison break – of sorts.

The ensemble cast is bright and brimming with life. Mr Bold’s constant puns and dad jokes make sure that a laugh is never far away. Georgina Goodchild’s performance as Minnie, the Bold children’s best friend, is sweet and slightly heart-breaking. The disgruntled neighbour, Mr McNumpty, played by Sam Pay, serves well as a menacing antagonist, threatening to out the Bolds for the hyenas that they are. Jon Trenchard’s later appearance as Uncle Tony is an absolute joy, exuding warmth with his characterisation of an elderly hyena.

The set design by James Button is simple yet effective. The Bolds’ home is constructed out of thin frameworks, splashed with red and yellow. Even their own Honda is manufactured in this stencilled fashion, allowing for quick and easy traversal across the stage to hilarious effects.

Original songs crop up across the play and they are a delight to behold. Especially the spelt-out chant of H-Y-E-N-A that is sure to have the audience singing along by the end.

Although The Bolds is sure to have audiences both young and young at heart laughing their hearts out, the real core of this play is what it has to say about the true meaning of family – chosen or otherwise. Captivating and engaging from start to finish, The Bolds is a delight for the kids.

Runs until 31 December 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Delightful family tale for children.

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