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Dahl But Never Boring


By Liane Morris

“Spectacular. Director Ross Balbuziente expertly translating the exuberance and twisted darkness of Dahl’s work onto stage. Beg, borrow or steal a child to take with you to the theatre, or simply go on your own for a marvellous night out.” – The Creative Issue

Are Roald Dahl’s children’s books experiencing a renaissance or did he never go out of fashion in the first place? New paperback versions of all his best books are on sale everywhere and of course the movie makers have been trawling them for years and bringing them to life on the big screen, think The BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to name just a few.

One suspects he never went out of style but that perhaps the raging success of David Walliams is having something to do with new print runs of Dahl. The two have been compared, and Walliams has been heralded as the new Dahl. With Walliams’ books flying off the shelves, the publishing houses would not be able to resist an opportunity to sell Dahl to yet another new generation. And this is not a bad thing.

Dahl was an absolute master story-teller. Children loved his books because they were written from their own view of the world. Dahl understood that adults could be scary, that magic was very possible in the eyes of a child and that sometimes you had to be downright naughty to escape ugly situations. He never shied away from unpleasantness and evil abounds in his books. Every story he wrote for children began with imagination and energy and kept up a relentless pace throughout. It is totally impossible for kids to become bored. This driving pace and outrageous imagination make Dahl an obvious choice for film and theatre makers. It also makes Dahl a good choice for parents of reluctant readers.

Theatre is an excellent way to encourage literacy in children who find books boring. More immediate than film, theatre highlights the verbal, and when adapted from books, brings those words to life in a way that stimulates the senses. If children engage with the text as well as the theatrical experience there is a much better chance of forming those critical literacy links. There is quite possibly no better way to do it than with the wacky, slightly grotesque world of Roald Dahl whose books are among the most well-loved of all in children’s literature.

And so, the incredibly talented, award-winning team at shake & stir theatre company, who bought you the sell-out Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts in 2015, chose another Dahl classic for their latest stage adaptation at Riverside Theatres in April this year, Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine. With a sell-out season at the Sydney Opera House under its belt, we already know what a fabulous production this is.

Shake & stir specialise in stage adaptations of classic texts. Aside from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts we’ve also seen their productions of Dracula, Wuthering Heights and 1984 at Riverside in recent years. Adapting such texts to the stage is no mean feat and George’s Marvellous Medicine presents its own challenges that the creative team have brilliantly met. Director Ross Balbuziente told his cast and crew that he wanted to create ‘a live cartoon on stage’ and the result is a high energy, over the top feast for the senses that appeals to adults as well as children in a 60 minute roller coaster ride of sheer fun.

Book your tickets early, grab a copy of the book if you don’t already have one and read it with your kids, especially your reluctant readers. Aside from the obvious literary advantages of seeing this show, you’ll also be making memories with your family. These are the experiences that children don’t forget. The text comes alive, the story becomes physical and the jokes are there to be laughed out loud at. Take Grandma but make sure she has a good sense of humour because she’ll be the butt of all the jokes!

Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine plays at Riverside Theatres 6 & 7 April 2018. Secure your tickets now.

About Liane

A freelance writer with a background in arts and media marketing, Liane runs a boutique consultancy from her home in Lake Macquarie. She can write just about anything but has a passion for the arts, health and cooking, happiness theories, travel, feminism, leadership and parenting.

In the past Liane worked as a senior marketer in organisations such as Canberra Glassworks, Riverside Theatres, Sydney Symphony, the ABC and Time Inc. Magazines (Who Weekly, Time, Sports Illustrated and InStyle) but these days she prefers the flexibility and creative freedom in freelance writing work.

An aspiring author of fiction for children and adults, Liane hopes to be published one day soon. She is a proud Novacastrian, loves living on the coast just 1 ½ hours from the big smoke, growing amazing little human beings and writing for pleasure and for her clients.

Visit Liane’s website
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