“Mommy, I am going to read The BFG next,” casually remarked my 8-year-old at the conclusion of Imagination Stage’s current stage production of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.
Could there be a better, more concise, or positive review of a play than those words? Especially coming from my not-overly-inclined-to-read-on-a-whim kid. It was music to my ears. One week later, she has officially cracked the book, further proving just how much she enjoyed the play.
We recently took a much-needed break from the sun and pool to head indoors for Imagination Stage’s new production, Roald Dahl’s The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Full disclosure: We are avid Matilda fans here, including a whirlwind 24-hour trip to NYC over spring break to see it on Broadway, but we weren’t overly familiar with the BFG plot.
In fact, I don’t even think I read The BFG as a kid.
I know, I know. A disgrace.
For anyone else who might not know, the BFG includes all the essential elements for kid theater-going success: farting jokes, enormous giants, a good-fighting-evil arc, a brave little girl and some explanation of where our dreams come from. In our house, my youngest shares a name with the show’s main character, Sophie, so we had that added perk. Also chez moi, zapping bad dreams from heads before bed-time is a nightly ritual, so any chance to learn how these dreams get in our heads is a win-win for my girls.
The play opens with little Sophie’s cold and unloving orphan existence. While she’s looking out the window one sleepless night, she happens to spot a huge giant. According to Dahl, the master of exploring kid fears and imaginations, mean giants roam the globe when humans are sleeping, and do horrible things like eat children.
Honestly, some might consider the Dahl stories too dark and morbid but I love them. Just as the children
are revolting in Matilda but they rise above their adult oppressors and prevail, the same proves true in The BFG. In this case, Sophie happens to spot the one giant who doesn’t eat children, so while he snatches her from her own bedroom (hello possible nightmares and kidnapping fears), he is nice and caring and hides her from the mean children-eating giants in his giant-land.
At this point, you might be wondering the right age group for the play? My 5-year-old came along and she never once was scared or upset by the plot. The only challenge we faced with her was the length of the play, especially because it includes a short intermission. Anyone who follows my theater reviews knows I loathe intermission for kid plays. I confess, I was disappointed they brought back the intermission for this play because Imagination Stage had eliminated it from the past few consecutive plays. Bottom line, Mr. WM and me both agreed that early Elementary through 6th grade is the ideal target for this one, my rising Kindergartener was questionable but it wasn’t inappropriate or outrageous to bring her along. She just understand it or appreciate it like her older sister did and it got to be a little long for her.
In the end, Sophie and the BFG plan to save the world’s children from the mean giants by concocting a clever plan to get inside the Queen of England’s head. Along the way, Dahl successfully mixes farting jokes with the ever-proper Queen while good wins over evil.
If the kids in your house are Dahl-lovers, I’d highly recommend this summer play. It’s a great chance to escape the heat and explore your little one’s imagination. From my perspective, there is no greater marker of a wonderful theater experience than a child actively seeking out the book after the show.
Catch The BFG now through August 10th. Tickets are on sale for $10 and can be purchased online.
Disclosure: Me and my family were guests of Imagination Stage but my opinions here are all my own.