A sweet treat for Valentine’s Day: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Scratching your head for something original to buy that special person in your life this Valentine’s Day? Read on.

I got my hands on two golden tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (now playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and surprised the person in my life with a night out in the West End.

I’m sure, like me, you’re no stranger to Roald Dahl’s tall tale of the original Master Chocolatier, his wondrous sugary creations and his search for an heir to hand the factory keys over to.  It’s a childhood staple for most of us.

charlie and the chocolate factory

Gene Wilder supremely embodied the character Willy Wonka on the big screen in the ’70s, Johnny Depp in the 00, less so (IMO).  Both film incantations grace our small screens seemingly fortnightly, so almost anyone with a telly is aware of Wonka.

It’s for that reason that there’s a huge weight of expectation on any actor playing him in a stage version.  This is where this all new London production draws its first ace.

Alex Jennings is a BRILLIANT Willy Wonka.  Like a selection box of chocolates – he plays the role dark, light and nutty.  He guides us through the gates of his factory and is all at once charming and sinister.  It’s genuinely one of the best stage performances this reviewer has witnessed.  Perfect.

charlie and the chocolate factory

The next amazing thing about the show is the kids they’ve cast, particularly the titular Charlie, uber-brat Veruca Salt and Scandinavian chocoholic Augustus Gloop.  The whole child ensemble are ridiculously talented. Great actors, singers and in the case of the last two, hilarious comedy performers.  A show that’s about kids and for kids could easily have felt laboured or stage-schooly, but this didn’t.  The young cast are so natural.

Now then, the sets. A show like this is a multimillion pound venture and you can see exactly where that money was spent. It looks fantastic.  The producers really have created a world of pure imagination.  From the shabby, less-than-chic Bucket house, to the wondrous factory and the climactic great glass elevator – I have no idea where they manage to cram everything in the wings.  The show is a spectacular feast for the eyes.

charlie and the chocolate factory

It all added up to a perfect night out.

So, instead of buying your partner just chocolates for 14 February, give them the keys to the whole factory.

Book tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory today, showing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until 31 October 2015.