Review: The Witches, Chichester Festival Theatre

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

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Let’s get straight to the point here. Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s production of Roald Dahl’s The Witches at The Minerva is damn near perfect.

As with all Dahl (adapted, here, for the stage by the ever-wonderful David Wood) this is dark and funny and sad and vicious and inspirational and rudely funny and – of course – it ends with a dash of hope for humanity.

At Monday’s press-night performance there was truly great work from Finn Elliot as the boy and Beth Church as his grandmother. These two manage to convey both the age-difference and the grand-maternalistic relationship beautifully – and there’s more than a little feistiness in that granny.

Sacha Hemingway is wonderfully repulsive as Bruno and Emma Read simply astonishing as the Grand High Witch. Her singing voice is a gift which will only get better with age. Guy Conroy-Smith and Jack Nash do a lovely comic turn as the chefs, too.

It’s slick, it’s sassy and a must-see for Christmas. Until January 4.

JAMES GEORGE