Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at the West End

 

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Last night, I went to the West End (again) to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was with two of my closest friends, as well as two girls I had never met before, as we were celebrating my friend’s 18th. We were in London by 2pm so we could have a bit of a lazy walk around Covent Garden, where we spent ages fawning over handmade leather notebooks and revisiting our childhoods in a tiny toy shop before we went to dinner.

Any day out in London is bound to be a great day, just because there’s so much to see and do, and every time I go it’s brilliant. The train we got yesterday from home was insanely busy – I have never been on a train from that station that was absolutely crammed full of people, but I guess there’s a first for everything.

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photo from visitlondon.com

The show wasn’t my favourite I’ve seen, but the mechanics of it all was fascinating. The oompa-loompas were puppeteered for a large proportion of the dance scenes, and if you looked hard enough, you could just see people in all black, including over their faces (obviously), hiding in the shadows controlling them. The set changes were swift and awe-inspiring. I don’t know if it’s just me who really takes notice of these types of things, but I love the whole backstage parts of theatre productions.

The child actors were brilliant – the energy they had on-stage was somewhat unexpected, considering their ages. The boy playing Charlie did brilliantly the whole way through, I honestly don’t know how he managed it, his role looked exhausting.

It was a bit of a shock when Charlie’s grandparents suddenly dropped through the floor and disappeared the first time (it happened a few times for scene changes) but it did give us a giggle, particularly when they appeared out of nowhere in the same place, rising through the floor.

At first, we thought they weren’t going to do the boat scene – you know, floating down the chocolate river – but they did do it, even if only for a short while. The way each child disappeared was done spectacularly, especially the one with Mike and the TV. The timing of everything was impeccable.

It might be a show designed for those aged 7+ (as the ticket so delightfully states), but it was a really good show. Like I said, not my favourite, but I think the way everything was orchestrated was just mind-blowing. I still can’t get my head around how they did the TV set in the beginning, where they’re waiting for all the golden tickets to be found and watching the news broadcasts as one by one kids find them, because on stage there was a ginormous TV set with a screen that slid down to reveal the characters in little box-shaped sets behind it. It probably sounds really confusing as I say it, but I’d love to be able to see it from the backstage POV.

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