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David Walliams' Awful Auntie on in Cambridge next week

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David Walliams with the cast of Awful Auntie
David Walliams with the cast of Awful Auntie

The Cambridge Arts Theatre hosts this thrilling children's play, based on the popular book by writer/comedian David Walliams.

David Walliams
David Walliams

When Stella sets off to visit London with her parents, Lord and Lady Saxby, she has no idea her life is in danger.

Waking up three months later, only her Aunt Alberta can tell Stella what has happened. But not everything Aunt Alberta tells her turns out to be true and Stella quickly discovers she’s in for the fight of her life against her very own awful auntie.

From the award-winning producers of Gangsta Granny, David Walliams’ amazing tale of frights, fights and friendship features a very large owl, a very small ghost and a very awful auntie!

Diane Parkes put some questions to David Walliams:

What or who inspired Awful Auntie?

“It may not be the answer you were expecting but I am obsessed with the film The Shining. I wanted to create a horror story where a child was trapped in a house with a dangerous relative, cut off from the outside world.

As for the character herself, I had a lot of fun creating Aunt Alberta. Villains are always so much more fun than heroes. I wanted her to be funny as much as scary, which is something my literary hero Roald Dahl always did so brilliantly.”

I have to ask the question – did/do you have any awful aunties and are they recreated in any way in the book?

“I am lucky enough to have three nice aunties, so no Alberta is not based on them. So in writing the book I let my imagination run riot which is normally the best way to go.”

How did you feel watching Gangsta Granny and seeing audience reactions?

“You feel like a magician when as an author you see your book come to life. It’s a real thrill to hear audiences laughing, one that never leaves you, even though I have been making comedy shows of my own for many years.”

Eighteen months on, are you surprised at how successful Gangsta Granny has proved to be?

“I feel it should now be on stage somewhere in the world until the end of time. Then I can retire! I am proud of the book, it seems to have really struck a chord with readers, so I am glad that more and more people can enjoy the story by seeing it on stage.”

Bearing in mind the colourful array of characters in Awful Auntie, do you think there are any particular challenges in bringing it to the stage?

“I think the world of Awful Auntie is very heightened. For example, Aunt Alberta has a henchman who is actually an owl. So I think capturing the tone of the book and still making it believable will be the biggest challenge. Also trying to balance the humour with the frightening moments is never easy, but I have every faith in the BSC [producers, the Birmingham Stage Company].”

How do you anticipate children will react differently to the stage show than reading the book?

“When you read a book it’s normally on your own, whereas when you watch a stage show you share the experience with an audience. You are likely to laugh more in an audience, so hopefully the stage show will be a hoot.”

What do you hope children will take away from seeing the production?

“Stella is a pretty self-reliant heroine, and so I hope children will be inspired to find the strength within themselves to deal with bad situations. Also Stella is posh and even has the title ‘Lady’, but by the end of the story she realises none of that is important and that all people should be treated the same. I believe that too.”

And what message is there for adults?

“The message for adults is don’t lock your niece in a country house, or you may end up being killed by a giant snow-owl.”

And what one thing would you still like to do but haven’t got round to yet?

“I would like to meet and hopefully marry Rihanna.”

Awful Auntie will be on an the Cambridge Arts Theatre over the second half of half-term, from Wednesday, October 25 to Sunday, October 29.

The performance will be on Wednesday to Friday at 2.30pm and 7pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 3pm.

Tickets: Adults £25, children £19.

Age Guidance 5+


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