The Birmingham Stage Company presented me with a play full of fantastical potions and characters, audience interaction and hilarity that can only be associated with Roald Dahl’s magical world. George’s Marvellous Medicine, adapted by David Wood and directed by Phil Clark, presents the story of George, a lonely boy living on his parent’s farm with only sheep and pigs for company.
For those unfamiliar with the classic plot, George’s horrible grandma pays the family a visit and her constant demands and lack of love drive him to concocting a new medicine for her. This is not however your normal medicine; he mixes a multitude of household items together including face cream, hairspray and pig pills coupled with a magic spell!
After the medicine is administered all kinds of weird and wonderful things begin to occur on stage. Bodies change shape, animals become giant and George’s father imagines the possibilities of curing world hunger.
The interactivity of the play is an element that sets it aside from others. George, played by the excellent Ed Thorpe, enlists the help of the audience throughout to create the perfect medicine and to stir and cast a spell over his mixture. I was surrounded by a surge of noise as everyone got involved with George’s plan and assisted him with his experimentation. It was a wonderful sight to behold as audience members aged from 8-80 were sitting on the edge of their seats shouting toward the stage to help.
I have to admit, the character of the grandma (Deborah Vale) stole the show, with her grumblings and mutterings, was characteristic of the typical horrible grandmother figure. She scares her grandson with stories of witchcraft and spell casting and is adamant about taking her medicine three times a day. George administers her new medicine on stage and we witness first-hand the fantastical effects of this mixture. I won’t give too much away but it certainly is a sight to behold!
The hilarity of the mother’s confusion, giant chickens running around laying eggs on stage and the rantings of George’s father makes for a laugh out loud light hearted play. The fact that the action all took part on one beautifully constructed set inside the farmhouse and the yard is extraordinary.
The play is being performed at the New Theatre until Saturday 29th October if you want to witness a fantastic show tailored to all audiences. The Birmingham Stage Company has also been invited to perform “George’s Marvellous Medicine” in Dubai and I can certainly understand why; it is a timeless classic certainly to be marvelled at by all.
by Ellie Roberts