Theatre review: Wonderman

Wonderman works on the theory that a head injury gave way to Dahl's darker storeis
Wonderman works on the theory that a head injury gave way to Dahl's darker storeis
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Roald Dahl is, of course, a natural subject for a musical – the BFG, Charlie and his chocolate factory – what’s not such obvious material, however, is Dahl’s hospitalisation as a Second World War RAF pilot recovering from a head injury during an ill-fated flight.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Underbelly Potterrow

This musical theatre co-production by Gagglebabble and National Theatre of Wales ignores Dahl’s works for children and posits the theory that his head trauma sparked Dahl’s imagination and gave rise to his – much – darker adult stories popularised by TV’s Tales Of The Unexpected.

If this sounds an unlikely theory, Dahl himself gave it credence and there’s a nightmarish energy – helped immeasurably by the excellent live band onstage – to this handsomely mounted production directed by Amy Leach that proves convincing.

There’s a heavy debt to Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective, naturally, as Dahl (Adam Redmore) slips in and out of consciousness becoming an unwilling participant in tales such as Lamb To The Slaughter and Man From The South interspersed with a few period standards and solid original music by Lucy Rivers and lyrics by the show’s author Daf James.

It’s a show filled with memorable moments rather than a truly memorable show but the cast’s energy sells it.

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