Review by Rosie Holmes
David Walliams' books have become a favourite for stage adaptations of late with previous adaptations of Gangsta Granny and Billionaire Boy proving popular with families. It's now the turn of Demon Dentist to get in the chair, but can this show prove just as jaw-achingly funny as the others?
Demon Dentist tells the story of Alife and his ‘not girlfriend’ Gabz as they investigate mysterious going-on in their small town. Children are waking up after leaving a tooth under their pillow to discover a multitude of disgusting things; fox tails, eye balls, even a toe nail instead of the traditional coins. At the same time, new dentist Miss Root arrives in town played by Emily Harrigan.
Created by Birmingham Stage Company, who are no stranger to family theatre prodictions, having been responsible for bringing Horrible Histories to life on stage as well as many many Roald Dahl adaptations. Whilst not a full-blown musical, songs do feature in this show and Emily Harrigan certainly gives the strongest performance of the night during her end of act one number, evoking a pantomime like villain who bows to boos at the end of the show.
The highlight of the show was the shopkeeper, Raj. I have since been told by younger family members that Raj features in other David Walliams stories and I would go and see another show just for this character. He is effortlessly funny and Raj managed to make the adults in the audience laugh, as well as the children, something that was not always managed throughout the rest of the audience.
This show is most definitely for children and there were laughs aplenty at the mentioning of ‘bum bums’ and lots of laughs at social worker Winnie’s unfortunate incident with a bag of chocolate revels. There were also some more scary moments, a child next to me did have to watch through her hands at one point thanks to Emily Harrigan's star turn as the villain!
The set design was perfectly designed for children, it was colourful and bright. The set was used cleverly to create the effect of the cast running through a town, as well as simple yet effective lighting to show Alfie falling down a mine hole. A highlight amongst the audience was the large moving eyeball under Alfie’s pillow and Winnie’s impressive Moped.
Despite being for children, it did feel as if the first act of the show was a little slow, and there was rather a of of fidgeting. The second act was much more fast paced with effects, lighting and action that meant the children in the audience were far more engaged.
Whilst the show is predominantly silly and relies on lots of toilet humour, there are also a handful of heartwarming moments throughout. One such moment is the bond between Alfie and his poorly father for whom he is a carer which provides the show with some emotion and more depth than perhaps you would expect from a childrens show.
The show might be silly but if you have children I am sure they will enjoy this show, much like the audience of children and their parents who laughed along. The recommended age is 11+ but use parental discretion if you want to bring younger kids. Perhaps not jaw-achingly funny, but children should have a blast!
Demon Dentist Tours the UK until July 2023, get tickets here- Demon Dentist Tickets | Family Shows Tours & Dates | ATG Tickets