Review by Emma Whitelaw
BEWARE children of London; The Witches are in
town! (Well at Wyndhams Theatre anyway). David
Wood’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classically quirky
tale of good versus evil is as entertaining as it is hilarious.
According to Dahl, there are several ways to spot a really nasty
From a distance, they seem like regular women, but under closer
inspection they can indeed be identified for the horrible creatures
Firstly, they always wear gloves, even in the summer. They also
wear wigs; have no toes and big noses with which they smell children’s
The notoriously outspoken comedian, Ruby Wax, plays the most
wicked and evil of them all – 'The Grand High Witch'.
She is in town for the Witches AGM where she announces to her
devoted followers that they are to rid England of all its children
by turning them all into mice!
The plan is for every witch in the country to buy a sweet shop.
Each shop will have a grand opening where the witches incognito
give free sweets and chocs to the greedy little vermin of their
The sweets will be filled with a secret time-delayed formula
that, once eaten, will eventually transform the victim into a
But little does she know a spy is
present in the ballroom where she unveils the formula to her fellow
witches. Orphaned seven-year-old, Boy, happens to stumble across
the meeting and witnesses the harrowing effects of the formula
on his best friend, Bruno.
Unfortunately, he too falls prey to the formula when he is eventually
discovered by one of the witches who smells a child is in the
Cornered and captured, he is forced to drink the potion and instantaneously,
before our very eyes, shrinks, grows fur and a long tail.
The special effects throughout the show are superb! Which is
hardly surprising given that they are created by the genius behind
the magic effects for Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Paul Kieve, who is also
personal magic tutor to Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe.
Wax is deliciously nasty, and predictably amusing, as she waltzes
through a part that could have easily been created for her.
Other notable performances would be those of Dilys Laye, as the
Norwegian, pipe-smoking Grandmother, and Keith Saha, as the podgy
This stage production of The Witches is everything I
imagined it to be and, much like the book, it is quirky, imaginative,
entertaining, light-heartedly funny, and readily appeals to children
(of any age I might add!)
The Witches by Roald Dahl, adapted for the stage by David
Wood. Starring Ruby Wax, Giles Cooper, Isabel Ford, Chris Hawley,
James Hirst, Peter Holdway, Dilys Laye, Camilla Mathias, Keith
Saha, Catherine Skinner and Katerina Jugati. From March 3 until
April 2, 2005 at Wyndham's Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London,
WC2H 0DA. Box Office: 0870 060 6633.