Reviewer: David Doyle
Wonderman, a musical rendering of some of Roald Dahl’s stories for adults, from Gaggle Babble is a polished exploration of a darker side of Dahl’s writing that ooze mystery and murder. If you’re willing to go with the slightly disjointed nature of the piece, there’s much on offer here including some interesting musical arrangements, well-crafted performances, and an exploration of some delightfully macabre stories.
Dahl often cited a knock on the head he received when he crashed his plane during the second world war as the impetuous for his creativity. The company uses this as a clever structure for the show that shows Dahl slipping in and out of consciousness in hospital following the crash while the nightmarish visions of his mind coming to life in a series of short bursts. Episodic in nature, director Amy Leach manages to unify the narrative, in a show that is enjoyable throughout.
Tales of butchery, betting, and the Big Apple are definitely not what you’d initially think of when thinking of Dahl but the production brings them to life with a decidedly Dahlian feel. With a live band on stage, the score, while never groundbreaking, has a charming sound to it and as the stories weave in and out of one another, the piece manages to suck you into the whimsical worlds of Dahl’s mind.
Dahl’s stories have yielded some hugely successful adaptations of late, and while this production may not have the lasting power of some other adaptations, it is an absorbing look at a more macabre side of the author. Highly polished, the show is a pleasure to watch. Bringing to life such a varied collection of lesser-known stories is no easy feat and Gaggle Babble’s success in doing is all the more impressive as a result.
Runs until 28 August 2016 (not 22) | Image:Kirsten McTernan