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Demon Dentist at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

In bringing Demon Dentist to the stage every little detail has been teased out to maximise the fun that brings theatre alive for younger audience members.

Walliams children’s books are wildly popular and, even from a host of bestsellers, Demon Dentist , is one of the better known titles. So it goes without saying that the story is strong.

The characters in Walliams books are strongly defined, which works well on stage. Giving characters immediate depth while the script is packed with humour.

Demon Dentist tell the story of the arrival of a sinister dentist to a town – and a series of unfortunate events that befall local children at the same time, namely finding grotesque items under their pillow in place of their teeth. This is set against central character Alfie’s personal story as a young carer for a dad who has been left chronically ill from years working in the mines, with the ailing father being excellently played by James Mitchell.

While the success of Walliams’ stories is undeniable, they can be a little chalk and cheese with children (and parents) but there is not too much in this show to worry about, potentially scary scenes are played with humour and fun, while the action quickly moves forwards from the more emotional scenes.
To ensure the young audience is kept entertained throughout, every trick of the trade is used. There is a chaotic chase scene, exaggerated repetitions, toilet jokes, a few songs, on stage vehicles and lots of laughs.

As Alfie, Sam Varley is excellent, bringing out the warmth of the kind-hearted character along with plenty of humour. His light-hearted manner keeps the tone warm and jolly regardless of what is going on with the dentist and sets the pace of the play.

All the main characters from the book were also there, with the cast delivering excellent characterisations to add a varied on-stage dynamic. Raj ,Gabz, Winnie the social worker, the incompetent police officer and of course the dentist Miss Root.
Emily Harrigan was excellent as the dentist, playing the part of the villain excellently and with fantastic stage presence. Although every member of the cast was brilliant.

As a fast-moving touring production, the use of the stage is notable, seamlessly shifting from school rooms to home and even to a magical underground grotto. No detail has been spared in making the most of every aspect of the show to deliver a great theatre experience for children.

While this was a short stop on a national tour, Demon Dentist is an excellent example of how well theatre can be made to work for children. Look out for child-friendly touring productions arriving at The Regent Theatre throughout the year. Demon Dentist is at The Regent Until Sunday, April 2 – buy tickets online.

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