Home » London Theatre Reviews » Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Think back. When you were younger, was there a character from a book, TV show or film that scared the bejesus out of you? For some, it was the Daleks, but for others, it was the slim figure of ballet dancer Robert Helpmann as the Child Catcher. I mention this because the touring production of Ian Fleming’s story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has flown into the New Wimbledon Theatre.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Blue light watercolor background, texture paper

For those that have somehow missed the film, this is the story of a grand prix-winning car that is nobbled by Boris (Adam Stafford) and Goran (Michael Joseph), evil henchmen of Baron (Martin Callaghan) and Baroness (Bibi Jay) Bomburst of the Kingdom of Vulgaria, The car crashes and ends up in Coggins’ yard where it is the favourite plaything of Jeremy and Jemima (Roshan Thomson And Gracie Cochrane). Unfortunately, Coggins is planning to sell it but the children persuade him to hold on until their father Caractacus Potts (Adam Garcia) can buy it for them. Truly Scrumptious (Ellie Nunn), daughter of local sweet magnate Lord Scrumptious (Hadrian Delacey) sees the children and, believing they are running wild instead of being at school, returns them home to their father and Grandpa (Liam Fox). Can Caractacus get the money together to buy the car, and if he does, can he make it roadworthy again, and if it is roadworthy, what magical properties will it have?

I saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on stage back in its days at the London Palladium, and this touring version is just as good as it was back then. It works really well as a great family show and has something for everyone regardless of age or love of theatre. Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman’s music and lyrics have stood the test of time and there are some great set-piece dance numbers, in particular, one of my favourite numbers “Me Ol’ Bamboo” where Choreographer Karen Bruce works the ensemble to produce something pretty darned spectacular. Morgan Large’s set is interesting, consisting of many wooden boxes on wheels, supplemented with some flown-in backdrops etc, to bring locations to life and the whole production has a really good look about it. My only small niggle about the costumes was the chevrons on Grandpa Potts’ uniform were in the American rather than British format and also while it looked gorgeous, I’m not sure the trouser suit worn by Truly was authentically early nineteen hundreds.

Forget the humans, in this production, the car is the star, and Chitty is a wonder. Although I’ve seen the show before and know how the car works, it’s still breathtaking seeing it go through its paces. I’m not giving anything away – as it’s all over the website – but seeing a car fly over the stage complete with four singing actors is pretty amazing and shows what theatre is capable of. Magnificent, and well deserving of its own bow at the end.

Speaking of the actors, they have assembled a fine bunch, each giving their all to the show. Ex-Eastender Charlie Brooks as The Child Catcher whose sinewy movements and hypnotic teasing voice, managed to revive all my fears from the original movie. There is real chemistry between the three couples in the show. Adam Garcia and Ellie Nunn (Potts and Truly), Martin Callaghan and Bibi Jay (Baron and Baroness) and the pairing of Adam Stafford and Michael Joseph (Boris and Goran) all work their partnerships beautifully and give the feeling they have been together for years, they are so at ease with themselves and each other.

All in all, this version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was great fun. Yes, the comedy and staging can be a little pantomime-ish in places but it’s ultimately a kids’ show with a lot to appeal to adults. There were some problems with the sound on the evening I saw the show, particularly in the large ensemble numbers but, like everyone else, I gasped with wonder when I saw Chitty, cheered when it flew and clapped wildly when the final curtain call was taken, and that is the sign of a really good night.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Based on Ian Fleming’s timeless story for children and later made into the famous 1968 film, in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we meet absent-minded inventor Caractacus Potts who restores a broken-down old racing car with the help of his children Jemima and Jeremy. Soon the family discover the car has magical powers, and along with the delectable Truly Scrumptious, the family end up on a hilarious fantastical adventure to far off lands. Their heart-warming journey makes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a fun-filled hit for all the family.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at New Wimbledon Theatre from Tue 21 May to Sun 26 May 2024

Performance Times
Tue – Sat at 19:00
Thu, Sat and Sun at 14:00

New Wimbledon Theatre
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG, UK

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang UK Tour


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