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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Review - Edinburgh Playhouse

"...Chitty soars to new heights in this fresh adaption of a family classic."


The audience sits with bated breath as Chitty rises to fill the vast expanse of the Playhouse stage. Taking you right back to your childhood and creating a lasting memory for future generations, the spectacle of seeing this flying car come to life in front of your eyes is one of the most cinematic experiences you will ever have at the theatre.


Photography by Paul Coltas


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is based loosely on the novel by Ian Fleming, adapted for the big screen by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes. The original movie famously starred Dick Van Dyke as inventor, Caractacus Potts. This stage version is very similar in structure to the 1968 movie musical, with the same original songs by the Sherman Brothers and some additional music written by the pair for the stage adaptation.

 

The story follows inventor Caractacus Potts trying to get his big break after many failed inventions. He raises his two children, Jeremy and Gemima, after their mother passed with support from his father, Grandpa Potts. The two children fall in love with a car set destined to become scrap metal. Caractacus does all he can to raise funds to buy and transform the car, including trying to sell Toot Sweets (candies with holes in them) to a Candy company run by Lord Scrumptious, who is the father of Truly Scrumptious, who falls for Caractacus Potts and whom the children come to cherish. After securing the funds, Chitty is born, but it isn't an ordinary car - it can float and fly! As the Vulgarians set out to claim Chitty as their own, Caractacus, Truly, Jeremy, and Gemima (as well as some help from Grandpa Potts) must escape from the terrible Vulgarians.


 Photography by Paul Coltas


In this production, the titular role of Caractacus Potts is performed by stage, TV, and Film star Adam Garcia. Adam has brilliant charisma and charm, as well as being a trainer dancer, perfectly delivering on the show's more physical moments (like the large-scale dance number, Me Ol' Bamboo), as well as delivering emotion and heart in the softer moments like Hushabye Mountain with him connecting well with Jeremy and Gemima. Ellie Nunn brings energy and vocal power to the role of Truly Scrumptious, and Liam Fox is a strong Grandpa Potts. Adam Stafford and Michael Joseph also bring good comic relief in their parts as Vulgarian spies Boris and Goran. A welcome expansion on these parts from the movie, the pair deliver some of the show’s funniest lines and steal the scenes they feature.


Photography by Paul Coltas


The casting misstep is with Elaine C Smith as The Childcatcher. This leans on stunt casting and generally doesn’t feel as strong as the other performances. The Childcatcher should, in a way, scare the audience and be mysterious and feel this is lacking. Elaine C Smith is one of Scotland’s best, but feel this role isn’t the most suited for her. Additionally, having local children play some of the ensembles is probably a practical measure, and the children are all very talented and give some brilliant performances. Critically, when the children are singing, a track is used to support the vocals which doesn’t feel needed, as the children's accents are vastly different to that of the recording track.


Special effects are plenty. Without spoiling it, the car is phenomenal. Combining Ben Cracknell’s lighting design, Morgan Large’s overall design, and Gareth Tucker’s sound design allows Chitty to be born. Additionally, musically, the show is full of brilliant numbers. The orchestra deliver a memorable score under the direction of Stephen Hill.

 

Ultimately, Chitty soars to new heights in this fresh adaption of a family classic. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is loved for its great music, fast-paced story, and brilliant characters (including Chitty). For families and those wanting the ultimate journey back to their childhood, Chitty is pure theatrical magic.




Photography by Paul Coltas


This production is rated ★★★★


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs at Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday the 1st of June. To book tickets visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/chitty-chitty-bang-bang/edinburgh-playhouse/

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