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Danny, champion of the world at Lytham Hall

A full house of 600 at Lytham Hall enjoyed the very best that open air theatre can offer in this accomplished performance from Illyria.

Roald Dahl’s story has considerable poignancy. Tom Myles and Peter Swales, wonderfully contrasting in their heights, are first class as Danny and his dad, both coming to terms in their own way with the death of mum.

They fall foul of obnoxious local landowner Victor Hazell, played in a superbly over-the-top style by Nick Taylor who quickly and deliberately provoked the ranks of children at the front to storms of booing with his every appearance.

Illyria’s artistic director Oliver Gray, celebrating 25 years on the road, knows every trick of the trade - fourfold set, complete with an elevated forest of blue trees, delightful mechanical hens, comical toy cars and evocative music.

David Sayers was all Hello Hello Hello as the affable Sergeant Samways, Jennifer Shakesby a forthright Dr. Spencer and the experienced Ffion Glyn produced an excitable and wickedly Welsh vicar’s wife Mrs. Clipstone, her pram much more than it seems.

The littluns just shrieked as pheasants rained down on them in a high-octane second half, but Tom Myles had the skill to quieten the audience as in the finale he put across the strong moral point which characterises each of Dahl’s works. Glorious sunshine and a gloriously effective performance.

Toby Stirling

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