Review: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Review: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

By Graham Hiley.

It’s not every day that an inanimate object gets a standing ovation – but then it’s not often that a car is the star.

And Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is no ordinary vehicle. It has a life and a personality of its own which shone through in the official opening night of a fantasmagorical new production at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre.

No wonder it was given a bow of its own to cheers from the packed house at the curtain call.

There cannot be many people unfamiliar with Ian Fleming’s story of a flying car but still, the moment it takes to the air is spine-tingling.

You know there must be strings or some lifting mechanism but it is impossible to see how this theatrical magic is performed.

Against the spectacular starry backdrop, it really does look as though Chitty is soaring through the sky to save the day.

Even the talented cast have to take a back seat to the mechanics of this truly scrumptious brand new production directed by the Mayflower Theatre’s very own artistic director Thom Southerland.

It is a total triumph, not just the way the car comes to life but also the superb staging, Karen Bruce’s complex choreography and the witty one-liners peppered throughout this must-see show.

The best of those fall to two delightful double-acts. Martin Callaghan and Jenny Gayner are brilliant as the Baron and Baroness of Vulgaria displaying real chemistry in the roles especially in Chu-Chi Face and the Bombie Samba.

Meanwhile Vulgar spies Boris and Goran (Adam Stafford and Michael Joseph) get the best laughs with their quickfire routines, most memorably with Act English, the pick of the songs not featured in the famous film.

All the Sherman Brothers favourites are there too – and you forget just how many top tunes there are… until they keep going round your head for days!

Emmerdale’s Liam Fox shines as Grandpa Potts while Eastenders actor Charlie Brooks is an inspired choice as the sinister Childcatcher. Her performance is the stuff of nightmares – in the best possible way.

Adam Garcia and Ellie Nunn do a fine job as Caractus Potts and Truly Scrumptious though they were eclipsed by outstanding youngsters Jasmine Nyenya and Ayrton English as Jemima and Jeremy.

Their timing was terrific and their singing superb especially for ones so young and with so much to remember. And they received great support from the ensemble of rescued children whose choreography was flawless.

By the end of this thoroughly enjoyable show, you’ll come away believing a car can fly – which would be handy as both roads away from the Mayflower Theatre had been closed for roadworks! If only…

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs at the Mayflower Theatre until May 12. Tickets are on sale at or 02380 711811.

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