Modern take on a Kiddies’ Classic

Griffin Theatre Company’s The Witches will arrive at at Riverway Arts Centre on Friday, 19 May. IMAGE: Mark Nolan, NIDA

A stage adaptation of famed author Roald Dahl’s The Witches isn’t a new concept: David Woods penned the bridge from page to stage years ago. But what is entirely new is the idea that every single one of the characters could be played by the same actor.

Whether you’ve only seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or you’ve read every one of his books, Dahl is an author synonymous with fantastical stories and whacky words. Equally phizz-whizzing and gloriumptious will be the one-man performance of The Witches by Australian actor Guy Edmonds (Underbelly, Home & Away).

Director, Lucas Jervies, said he could never have predicted the show to be as successful as it is.

“I originally created this for my graduation at NIDA and I never expected it to do more than 5 shows. This will be the productions third tour in 4 years, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive,” Lucas said.

“I was excited to work with such brilliant material and bring Dahl’s characters to life. I was always the story teller growing up and I simply wanted to share my love of this story with people both young and old.

“The production celebrates the joy of storytelling and transformation, I can’t think of a better reason to drive a creative process.”

The Witches follows the adventures of a boy and his grandmother as they become unwillingly intertwined with the world of child-despising witches, whose despicable plan is to turn every child on the planet into a mouse.

“The production runs for about 40-45 minutes, so in creation we needed to be economical with the information and of course consider the challenges of only one actor. In the novel, ‘Boy’ tells us his story in the first person so I decided that this is how we would keep the spirit of Dahl alive in our production – one actor telling us his story.”

Guy brings a wealth of experience to the stage as he takes on nine different personas throughout the 45-minute act. The fact that this wasn’t conceived as a one-man show until Guy’s riveting audition speaks volumes – it is a one-man show because director Lucas Jervies believed Guy to be the best actor for every role.

“In order for each character to be clear, they needed their own voice and physicality. As the production develops the transformations between characters becomes faster. This speed and fluidity takes a lot of rehearsal but when achieved it is joyful to watch such a virtuosic performance.”

Recommended for children and adults alike over the age of six, The Witches hits your funny bone and heart strings at the same time. Dahl-lovers will know to expect the quirky – his stories have a habit of ending on unexpected notes, which rings true for The Witches. The fact that this humourous but confronting tale has been placed in the hands of one actor is astounding, and reason enough to book your seat.

Be entertained by Griffin Theatre Company’s The Witches at Riverway Arts Centre, with 12:30pm and 6:30pm performances on Friday, 19 May. Tickets are $15 and available through the Townsville Ticketshop.

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