The Slightly Annoying Elephant is playing at the Gilded Balloon Teviot Debating Hall until the 27th of August.
We meet poor, hapless Sam, who didn’t read the small print and ends up having a real-life Elephant visit his house. There follows a series of bossy, bulldozing and bullying from the Elephant as Sam is made to run around playing servant to the grumpy Nelly and we are drawn to an ever more frustrating conclusion which leaves us, the audience with little resolution. Perhaps when writing it, this is what David Walliams was initially going for; that people (or in this case Elephants) can be just awful and take advantage of you if you’ve signed the dotted line. The issue with that is, it’s a pretty downbeat message to leave the kids with.
There are good production values in the piece, the Elephant is cleverly constructed and articulate, though an overuse of a trick with the ears get’s repetitive. There are some songs in the show but not enough to call it musical and the actors do a solid job.
The main issue lies with the source material and adaptation. The pace never really gets going. When you turn a book such as The Slightly Annoying Elephant, that can be read in under 10 minutes, into a 40 minute show it becomes a huge challenge. Even the wonderful television adaptations of Julia Donaldson’s books drag at times due to this very same fault.
In this show, there is little rising tension or emphasis on us needing to connect to Sam and as stated above, it doesn’t tie up well or give your little one much to ponder on.
Like or loathe him, David Walliams is now a household name. His cheeky, wicked sense of humour has permeated the fabric of the National mind, leaving us always in anticipation of a tongue-in-cheek quip or Frankie Howard-esque innuendo. As such, theatre productions with the name attached should be infused with that same sense of fun and mischief. The Slightly Annoying Elephant has sadly missed the mark.