Review: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ? Reliving childhood memories

The Potts family with Truly Scrumptious go for a picnic in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The Potts family with Truly Scrumptious go for a picnic in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. - Credit: Archant

I was full of anticipation to see a stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang open at The Bristol Hippodrome last night (Tuesday) as it is always lovely to revisit childhood memories.

You will have to see for yourself how they make a car fly on stage.

You will have to see for yourself how they make a car fly on stage. - Credit: Archant

And being a fantastic mother I decided it was high time I introduced my 10-year-old to the horror of the Child Catcher who most of us remember for giving us nightmares as kids.

This show is by award-winning amateur theatre group BLOC Productions who have excelled themselves once again with an amazing feat of engineering (I tried to tell my son it is actual magic but he was having none of it!) as well as outstanding performances and a visual feast for the senses in the sets and costumes.

The story, for those of you who have never seen the 1968 film (where have you been?), centres around poor and eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts who restores an old race car he has rescued from a scrap heap, with the help of his children, Jeremy and Jemima, which turns out to have magical powers.

But an evil baron gets wind of the plan and desires the mystical vehicle for himself.

The Child Catcher is the object of many a childhood nightmare.

The Child Catcher is the object of many a childhood nightmare. - Credit: Archant

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The Potts family join forces with the beautiful Truly Scrumptious and batty Grandpa Pott to outwit the dastardly baron and the villainous henchman, the Child Catcher.

One of the reasons I wanted to see the show was pure curiosity as to how they would make a vintage car fly on stage but fly it certainly did. I have no clue as to how (my son offered his explanation of course!) but suffice to say it brought tears of joy to my eyes to witness such a miraculous spectacle.

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The standard of acting, singing and dancing was fabulous, particularly from the young stars, Lily Beacon and Jack Spencer who were convincing rather than being too sickly-sweet in their affection for their dad and hit the right note between being dramatic but not over-the-top during the tense moments or action scenes.

My favourite scenes were when the comedy value was high and featured the two double-acts of Bulgarian spies Goran and Boris and their bosses Baron Bomburst and his baroness. The delivery of the brilliant one-liners and physical comedy was impeccable, with Peter Cottell, who I loved as Higgins in My Fair Lady last year, as Goran, camping it up as the spy who is trying hard to blend into the background and be English.

And Craig Sillick was the perfect Child Catcher, sticking to the right side of chilling villain rather than descending into pantomime baddie. I was worried that because many people still talk of how terrifying the character was when they saw the film as a child that they may have toned it down for the stage version but I was delighted to find he was still devilishly wicked and dark with his eerie silky-tongued calling to the children. So much so some of the younger audience members could be heard bawling into their parent’s shoulders at the back of the auditorium during the quieter moments he was on stage.

The supporting cast and young dancers from the Adele Stitch School of Dance also deserve a mention for being word and step-perfect.

There was much clapping along to the well-known title song whenever it was played or sung and the Bristol audience gave rapturous applause at the end. I left with an emotional tear in my eye and was singing all the way home – much to my son’s dismay!

The show will be staged each night at 7.30pm until Saturday, with a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday.

Tickets, priced £22-34, are available at or on 08448 713012.

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