The distinctiveness of the Watch This: 48 Hour productions is down to its short preparation period of just 48 hours to rehearse and 10 days to learn the script. Although this is a tremendous challenge, the students’ enthusiasm usually makes for a rip-roaring show.
On Sunday the 18th of October, the Debating Hall at the Guild played host to the 48 Hour’s unique production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With no seat left empty, the electric atmosphere was abruptly interrupted by Miss Trunchbull, played by the talented Mathilda Blythe. Blythe played the host as well as the omniscient narrator of the play, who was always stage right on her elaborately decorated throne. She was the first of many references to Roald Dahl’s tales that we would see that night. Her ability to involve the audience was a credit to her flair and heightened the comedic value of the entire play
There was no doubt that the plays short preparation time was a difficult challenge for the actors, as it was made clear through the musical performances. However, the students’ passion as well as the audience’s overwhelming reception to the Tim Burton style of script was obvious.
One of Roald Dahl’s most cherished children’s book was reworked to be appreciated by a more mature audience. The references to Dahl’s other works such as, Fantastic Mr Fox, played by Amy McEwen, Matilda and the passing mention to James and the Giant Peach created a nostalgic feel to the play. Also, we were impressed with the inclusion of current issues such as fox hunting and UKIP, which were playfully added to create a modernised script the audience could relate to. A stand out point to us both was the dramatic change of the ending that we are so familiar to: Willy Wonka was arrested for flying his Great Glass Elevator out of his chocolate factory and was charged by the children with the winning tickets for his reckless, yet loveable, behaviour. This was a clear stamp by the writer and director of the play, Will Jackson, to differentiate from the classic story. The play closed with Willy Wonka transforming into Fanny Fonka, a new teacher at Miss Trunchbull’s school, which we thought finished the play off neatly as all the characters had come together to complete the performance.
In regard to the characters we would like to congratulate everyone on a hilariously adapted play. However, our personal highlight was the character of Augustus Gloop played by Becky Hansell whose comic timing, perfect German accent, and her ability to improvise even through the interval was outstanding. The play was an evident success because of the continual roar of laughter from ourselves and the rest of the audience (especially the man sat to our left who snorted to whole way through with pleasure).
Well done to the cast and crew of the 48 hour Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we can’t wait until the next production of Mary Poppins in November!