Watch out! The cabbage-crunching criminal mastermind Gangsta Granny is bearing down on Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre (April 20-22).
Birmingham Stage Company are on the road with their stage adaptation of David Walliams’ modern classic – with Louise Bailey delighted to fill the granny shoes, just as she has from the beginning.
“The journey began in 2015, and I have been with it from the start. It has been amazing. The show has had an incredible response, really because it is such an amazing story.”
Gangsta Granny is the story of Ben and his grandmother. It’s Friday night and Ben knows that means only one thing – staying with Granny. There will be cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake and Ben knows one thing for sure – it’s going to be so boring. But what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret – and Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny…
“The reason it’s such a wonderful show is that they go on this massive adventure and everything actually happens at the same time that the audience is there. Nothing happens off-stage. It is all there in front of the audience.
“Really, it just such a shared experience – and also such a beautiful story between a granny and her grandson and really just how they discover each other. They just don’t understand each other at the start. Ben is growing up, and granny doesn’t understand him. He has reached the age of 11, and she doesn’t know how to relate to him, and he just thinks that she is so boring. She hasn’t got a television, she likes reading, she eats a lot of cabbage and she plays scrabble… but then it is all about how they get to know each other.
“David Walliams’ story and Neal Foster’s adaptation is great. The crux is that we can all be so busy that we don’t really spend time with people and we don’t get to know them. It is about how we can all learn about other people’s lives.
“And I am playing granny! I did a lot of research because I am not quite the right age! For me personally, I went back and worked out when she would have been born and I reminded myself of everything that she must have lived through. I did a lot of work in that sense, just about how she would behave and how she would think. I did all that background before we started rehearsing.
“But the point is that she absolutely adores her grandson and everything she does is for him. I think granny’s husband passed away about 20 years before the story happens, and she has been on her own for a long time. She doesn’t see her son, Ben’s dad, very often. She has very much been on her own.
“But Ben just gets dumped with her every Friday because she is seen basically as a baby-sitting service. Ben comes round every week, but he really isn’t very keen… just because the two of them don’t know each other properly.”
Louise says it has been great to live with the characters for so long: “I think instinctively actors do have an idea about characters, but it’s incredible how much you discover as you go along.
“And the audiences have just been amazing. They absolutely love it.
“Everywhere we have gone the response has just been amazing.”
Tickets to see Gangsta Granny in Worthing are available from the Worthing Theatres box office on 01903 206206 and online at http://worthingtheatres.co.uk.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2