Wonderman, Friday 9th December, Wales Millennium Centre. Reviewer: Khuram Mahmood and Sarah Harris
When you first enter to take your seat at Wales’ Millennium Centre to watch Wonderman, you are instantly met with a feeling that this will not be any ordinary old production. Tables are spaced front to back in a somewhat orderly fashion but not so as to make it seem unnatural, with each featuring two candles, all of which illuminate the myriad of reaction present when the lights go out and the fun starts. The setup feels intimate and personal from the offset as a result, a fitting emotion for the story at hand.
Wonderman is an exploration of stories and their storyteller, presenting the relationship between the two in a sumptuous lyrical flavour, and as such is the perfect love letter to Roald Dahl’s imagination. The play functions as a series of flashbacks and day dreams experienced by an airman whilst in hospital, seemingly undergone by Mr Dahl himself whilst being treated as a pilot. While some cuts in the story are harsh, such as the sudden move to Jamaica, the overall work on set design and costumes creates a believable and veritable visual feast throughout the show, which makes even the more difficult to translate narrative forces come to life. The live band is a great addition to the sound in places you would not normally except, dramatic moments such as the climactic scene in the portrayal of Lamb To the Slaughter or the gruesome conclusion to Pig, furthermore cast members Lucy Rivers and Hannah McPake add their own inclusion into the instrumental ensemble in a meaningful way, a testament to their talent.
Adam Redmore’s timing is exceptional in small quips throughout the series of setting changes, leaving me often wondering if they were planned at all, and his chemistry with McPake and Rivers, in particular the segment relating to The Landlady allows even those who are familiar with the story to enjoy in the palpable tension.
Wonderman is a wonderful medley of jazz infused ballads and witty titbits about the life and times of Roald Dahl and his characters, a must see for all fans of one of Britain’s most celebrated authors.
by Khuram Mahmood and Sarah Harris
Wonderman is running at the Weston Studio in Wales Millennium Centre until 24th December.