Danny The Champion Of The World
Brighton Open Air Theatre
‘My father, without the slightest doubt, was the most marvelous and exciting father any boy ever had’
Just imagine for a moment you are given four weeks to live, what do you do?
When that happened in 2013 to playwright, theatre maker and guiding light of Brighton’s brilliant art scene, Andrew Bunting he did something quite different. He drew up plans and invested his life savings to make something that had been his dream, come true. Namely build an open air theatre in the city he loved. Two years later that dream was realised in a former bowling lawn in Dyke Road Park.
I never knew Adrian, but I think I would have really liked him. Why am I writing about him now? Well yesterday I walked into the theatre and immediately fell in love with what his dream had become. I was instantly struck by how beautifully perfect the setting was and just how many magical possibilities it held. It seems that those four weeks had been very well spent, indeed.
Say the word theatre and it conjures up images on dark and dusty buildings, dripping in history and seats that it is almost impossible to get four year olds to sit in for any period of time.
Brighton Open Air Theatre Events
Brighton Open Air Theatre, or BOAT as it is better known, is the complete opposite of this. One of the main reasons is it is now home of the brilliant Starboard festival which has been made with, by and for children and young people who get to watch, perform and play in it.
One of the benefits of planning a revolution, rather than having a 9-5, is that I am able to bunk off and have regular adventures with my son when we deem it necessary. Yesterday afternoon was one of those necessary times.
I took the Duke along to Brighton Open Air Theatre to see a production of my favourite Roald Dahl story ‘Danny the Champion of the World’.
The story of ‘Danny’, holds a very special place in my heart for several reasons. As a child, who shared his name and was also brought up by his dad- although not quite in Romany caravan -it struck a real chord with me. I loved Danny’s relationship with his dad and without probably realising it at the time, the subversive nature of getting one over on ‘the man’.
So there we were on Wednesday afternoon in the glorious sunshine. In a park that we had never been before standing on the top rail of an amphitheatre. Behind us an amazing view of Brighton and the sea. In front of us a small cast of people led the assembled groups of picnicking parents and kids through this wonderful romp of a story.
For the next 1.40 hrs we laugh, a lot (especially when the bullish villain Victor Hazell got so mad smoke came out of his ears). We booed the baddies and cheered the goodies. Best of all, we shouted and stamped along as we practiced our pheasant-beating skills. Well those are very important skills for a father to teach his young son, you never know when they might come in handy.
When we finally got home, later the evening, I got out my old copy of the book that I had read so many times as a child and gave in to my son as a present. His words ‘Wow, daddy this is the coolest thing I have ever seen’…
Guess which book we are now reading at bedtimes.
The Starboard festival runs at Brighton Open Air Theatre from now to the 17th July and is packed solid with a stellar line up of fun and shenanigans – I wholeheartedly recommend that you check it out. For more details check out further details here.