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26 | October 24, 2013 | | Cambridge News

The critical list: more hot tickets Round-up

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ɀ ILLUSTRATOR, model maker and ‘imagineer’ Jonny Boatfield will be on hand to help make a huge model bus (and some bizarre and colourful passengers), as part of the Big Draw in Burwell on Thursday, October 31. Taking place at the Gardiner Memorial Hall from 10am until 4pm, pop along to the free family event to invent and decorate some large scale models or create your own adventure themed picture – you’ll get to take it home! For more information email education@ or call 07714169062.

ɀ ACOUSTIC artist Lucy Ward is just 23 and plays guitar, ukulele and concertina. Considered “Britfolk’s most vibrant and forthright new young talent,” by MOBO, her second album, Single Flame, came out this summer to much critical acclaim (meaning the Guardian is a fan). Catch her at the Cambridge Folk Club at the Golden Hind on Milton Road on Friday, October 25. Support act EdwardAlice, an acoustic band from Cambridge, are fairly new to the scene and cite The Beatles, Nizlopi and Jack Johnson as inspirations. Yes, that does sound like a bizarre mix, but give them the benefit of the doubt. Entry is £11 on the door. Visit www. for details.

ɀ THE organisers i off the th Cambridge C b id Summer Music Festival are hosting Music in Quiet Places this autumn – a series of concerts held in local churches. The next event is being held at St Vigor’s Church, Fulbourn, and will showcase the talents of the Carducci Quartet who will be playing three classics of the String Quartet repertoire: Haydn (Op 20 No 5), Shostakovich (Quartet No 4) and Beethoven (Op 59, No 2) on Saturday, October 26, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £6- £14 from www. ɀ WITH crazy eyes and even crazier hair, comedian Vikki Stone is Definitely one to watch (see what I did there? Her new show is called Definitely. Got it?). A mix of comedy, songs and with a tonne of props, the comic is popping up all over the place at the minute and the Observer put her down as one of the top acts to see at this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe. Missed her in Scotland? Don’t miss her in Cambridge. Check her out on Friday, October 25, at Cambridge Junction. Tickets cost £13 from (01223) 511511.

ᔡ James and the Giant Peach, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Tuesday, October 29 – Saturday, November 2 at various times. Tickets £12.50£17.50 from (01223) 503333 / cambridgeartstheatre.

Just peachy O

ne of the greatest of Roald Dahl’s tales, James and the Giant Peach (not that it’s truly possible to pick a favourite and stick with it when it comes to Dahl), is coming to the Cambridge Arts Theatre next week in the form of an ingenious show complete with a technically wondrous spherical contraption – yep, an absolutely huge peach. Ella Walker caught up with Tom Gillies, who is playing James, and fellow cast member and local lass Giovanna Ryan, to find out more. “The old man that gives James the magical bag of crocodile tongues, on the face of it, can seem very benevolent, but you have to think, does he have an agenda?” actor Tom Gillies muses. “In some of Dahl’s original conceptual work for James, the old man initially wanted one of James’s legs in return for the bag. And it’s not the first time; James spies one of his hands and it’s the smooth hand of a child, so this is perhaps his way of achieving immortality.” That portion of Dahl’s classic tale of an orphan, a giant peach, a gaggle of seagulls and a motley collection of oversized insects, was dropped for being a tad too macabre, but, Tom adds: “There are still hints of that there. What overall is

quite a positive encounter has that unsettling backbone behind it.” But it’s the sinister dark edge, rubbing up against the lightness of adventure, that makes James and the Giant Peach stick in your mind. “It’s such an iconic children’s role,” says Tom, admitting how big a responsibility – and a privilege – it is taking on the part of James. “It’s a character that a lot of people feel like they know and love, and as an actor I get to bat to be a worthy contender for their favourite interpretation, in spite of stiff competition.” His favourite Dahl creation – if he has to choose – is anything Charlie and the Chocolate Factory related. “I absolutely loved the Jean Wilder movie from the 70s, so much so I think I wore out my VHS copy, and the first Dahl book I read happened to be the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which was great because I always wondered, when they go off up into the sky, what now? What happens next for Charlie Bucket? “At the time I had a real fascination with space so it was great it was set there with the Vermicious Knid too.” The most triumphant aspect of this production by the Birmingham Stage Company is, of

course, the peach itself, which appears in several incarnations. “We have a peach that we inhabit, peaches that inflate, we even have audience participation. . .” says Tom mysteriously. “A lot of people said to me at the outset, how on earth are you going to stage that?” he adds. “Some of the design work that’s been done is great. It takes a lot of its inspiration from Heath Robinson, primarily known for his drawings of very grand, strange contraptions that usually fill quite a simple purpose in quite convoluted ways, so you’ll have lots of hands on deck and ladders and pulleys and ropes and all that which is wonderfully quirky and suits Dahl down to a T.” Is the show as fun and magical as you’d imagine stepping into Dahl’s world would be? “Oh absolutely, absolutely,” Tom buzzes. “You’ve got the magic, the underdog, the unlikely hero story, and some really polarising characters. James’s aunts Spiker and Sponge are truly two of the most horrible characters in children’s literature. “There’s a lot of laughs, larger than life characters and touching moments as well so it’s a really – it sounds terribly cliché – but a whirlwind of emotions and novelty.”

Two minutes with Huntingdon born Giovanna Ryan, who grew up in Cambridge: Can you describe all your different roles in James and the Giant Peach? I start off by playing the tour guide who opens the show and invites the audience into the New York world where we end up at the end of the show. Then I play many things: James’s mum, a cameraman, a sea gull, a shark, a ship’s captain and a cloud man. I think that’s it!

Which is the most fun to play? The sharks are great. I wouldn’t want to give everything away but we have a very exciting dance routine as sharks. Do you actually get eaten by a rhinoceros as James’s mum? Yes! But it’s done with puppets! How magical is the production? We have a very, very creative team. If you come and see the show you can see into the wings, so you get the

backstage experience as well which is quite nice. You’ve got to make a peach grow and a peach fly and it’s very clever the way that they’ve done that. What was your favourite Dahl book growing up? I really liked quite a controversial one; my mum always read us The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me, but also I loved Matilda. I think every little girl who likes to read loves Matilda.

James and the giant peach  

James and the Giant Peach - Cambridge Arts Theatre