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There are many shows that truly entertain kids, but there are the rare few that will have both kids and adults alike belly laughing in their seats.

Adapted for stage by shake & stir theatre co and directed by Ross Balbuziente, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts is one of these shows that will appeal to all family members.

Six fairytales from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Goldilocks And The Three Bears, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs), and four cheeky poems from Roald Dahl’s Dirty Beasts (The Porcupine, The Pig, The Crocodile and The Toad & the Snail) were put together to create a fabulous yet sometimes gruesomely funny stage show.

We knew we were in for something special when the theatre at the Seymour Centre felt like a G Rated nightclub with pumping music and smoke machine effects when we entered. The set featured a circular stage where all the stories would be told. A catchy tune asking us to question whether we truly knew the popular fairytales we grew up with played before out popped the actors asking the same question.

“I guess you think you know this story…..you don’t! The real one’s much more gory”

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Four actors, Nelle Lee, Nick Skubij, Judy Hainsworth, and Leon Cain played over 40 characters across the ten short performances. All four alternate between narrators and characters whilst changing costumes, accents and props with ease. The cast left the script alone with each line coming straight from Dahl’s collection of quirky stories and poems. Even if you were familiar with Dahl’s book, the way the cast acted out the plots with a modern twist kept the audience wanting more after each story was told.

The tale of Cinderella opened the show, where all four characters clearly pointed out that all was not at it seemed, particularly when the handsome prince started chopping off the heads of Cinderella’s step sisters.
The ball scene was our first taste of how props would be used creatively to illustrate the storyline. A large piece of fabric hanging from above to create the illusion of a ball gown, or on the ground portraying the ocean or a shadow screen creating more intrigue amongst the audience, are all examples of how the props transport us from one scene to the next.

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The production department is pure genius the way they have created a multifunctional platform to convey the storyline. The stage set was cleverly used with trapdoors allowing the actors to come and go and props be utilised when needed. It was also set up to revolve back and forth to incorporate the painted set on the outside of the stage. The costumes are fairy-tale folk style with a serious injection of cool. The fight scene between the pig and the farmer was very humorous and with a bit of special effect lighting slowed it down making it even more witty.

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Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts is not for the faint hearted however shake & stir theatre co’s adaptation is carefully and tastefully produced to ensure that any gory bits are presented in a humorous and child friendly way. Shadow play with cardboard cutouts protects children from a potentially gruesome scene between a pig and a farmer and you’ll love the way the props appear when the ugly sister’s heads are cut off!

I cannot rave enough about this stage show. The direction, the actors, the production elements all come together seamlessly to create one of the best family friendly shows we have kid tested. Unfortunately shake & stir theatre co’s  Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts is coming to the end of their national tour but you can catch a performance at the following venues this month.

Riverside Theatre – Parramatta | 15 & 16 October
Manning Entertainment Centre – Taree | 19 & 20 October
Logan Entertainment Centre | 22 & 23 October