How do you depict a giant chicken on stage, or contend with a grandma who grows eight metres tall?
These are just two of the challenges to face Joe Douglas, the director of Dundee Rep’s Christmas show George’s Marvellous Medicine.
Even though the Roald Dahl’s classic was first published more than 30 years ago it remains one of his most popular stories and that in itself puts pressure on Joe: “People of all ages have high expectations of any adaptation of a Roald Dahl story and you don’t want them to be disappointed,” he says.
It’s the story of George’s nasty old grandma who needs teaching a lesson. George decides the best remedy for her grumpiness is a special home-made medicine. But Grandma gets more than she bargained for…
“The show follows the story very closely and Stuart Paterson’s adaptation is brilliant. It’s a mixture of pantomime and a more traditional Christmas show and although the story isn’t Christmassy in an obvious way, it’s full of fun, and we get the audience to join in and be silly,” says Joe, who is also the Rep’s associate artistic director.
The decision to feature another Roald Dahl classic was easy following the success of previous productions by the world’s number one storyteller, including The Witches, James and the Giant Peach and The BFG.
The lead role of George will be played by two different actors, Rebekah Lumsden and Laurie Scott, while George’s Grandma will be played by Ann Louise Ross, who plays Granny Island in CBeebies’ Katie Morag.
“As well as playing George, they will be darting all over the stage throwing dance moves and manipulating puppets – it’s a very energetic production.
“All the departments are working hard to bring some theatrical magic to this technically ambitious show, including some striking visual ideas from designer Ana Inés Jabares-Pita and the script is packed with great gags for kids and grown-ups. Obviously Grandma and a few unlucky chickens will ‘grow’ during the performance – but don’t worry, no chickens will be harmed in the making of this show.”
To tie in with the launch of the production, an online interactive game Transforming Trevor (playable here) has been created by Tayside web designer Ryan McLeod.
“The brief from the theatre was to create something based loosely around the story of George’s Marvellous Medicine, while linking it to the Christmas theme,” Ryan explains.
“Once you’ve created your potion, you can feed it to Trevor the turkey and watch him transform in a whole load of weird and wonderful ways.”