Guests at the Arena Birmingham had a very special Christmas treat today, when David Walliams came to town to introduce the live show of his brilliant, poignant bestseller ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’. The brand new adaptation is a true festive treat, a lovely story of the relationship between one boy, Jack, and his grandfather, a World War Two hero pilot who is increasingly disappearing into his heroic past.
The story is set in the 1980s, which leads to some very funny scenes featuring Jack’s mom, an aerobics instructor in head to toe shiny lycra. It also gives us a great soundtrack of Duran Duran hits, which in the view of this Duranie is never a bad thing. We start the story with Grandpa at the top if the local church tower, attempting to shoot down enemy planes, at least in his mind, where WW2 is still raging. We then see how Grandpa’s mind has deteriorated recently, to the point he is no longer safe to live by himself, and he has to move in with his family.
A local not so friendly vicar suggests that Grandpa would be safer in Twilight Towers, a care home, but Jack and his dad are against this. However, an incident with a tank and a teacher at the Imperisl War Museum see Grandpa dispatched to the sinister home. But what is really going on there, and why is the owner Miss Dandy so familiar?
The large scale of the stage in the Arena Birmingham is perfect for the staging of a show with tanks and spitfires, lending a real air of spectacle. The cast are also sublime. I can’t think of anyone more perfect for the role of Grandpa than Nigel Planer, who is hugely sympathetic and totally loveable in the role. Siobhan Redmond is a hoot as the evil Miss Dandy, whilst the talented Tom Cawte is the heart and soul of the show as Jack. The rest of the family are perfect too, with John Marquez as a geeky cone specialist Dad, and the hilarious Niki Wardley as mom. Jasmine Banks and Devarnie Lothian as Shelley and Dazza are also very good in full 1980s mode.
Grandpa’s Great Escape is a show that children will love, that will also resonate with adults. It is simply gorgeous family entertainment.
GRANDPA’S GREAT ESCAPE
THE CHRISTMAS ARENA SPECTACULAR