REVIEW: Awful Auntie, Sunderland Empire, until July 1

Stella Saxby tries to escape the clutches of awful Auntie Alberta
Stella Saxby tries to escape the clutches of awful Auntie Alberta

Don't miss the Sunderland Empire's latest show - unlike the name, it's anything but awful!

Awful Auntie is the latest of David Walliams' best-selling children's books to get a stage adaptation - and if you enjoyed reading about Stella, Soot and awful Aunt Alberta, then you'll love seeing it brought to life on stage.

Stella gets help from Soot to keep her hands on Saxby Hall

Stella gets help from Soot to keep her hands on Saxby Hall

It has been turned into a theatre production by Neal Foster, the man who also brought Gangsta Granny to the stage and this is no less a triumph.

The cast of the Birmingham Stage Company do a great job in bringing all of the characters to life and telling the story of poor orphan Stella Saxby, left to grow up in Saxby Hall with only Aunt Alberta, her pet owl Wagner and madcap butler Gibbon for company - until she meets friendly ghost Soot (a late, deceased relative) who helps her piece together what really happened to her parents at the hands of evil Alberta, who is determined to get her hands on the deeds to Saxby Hall and will do anything to get them - even if it means poor Stella meeting an untimely end.

Georgina Leonidas plays the role of Stella to perfection as she seeks to thwart Alberta (performed with suitable dastardly menace by Richard James on the night). Ashley Cousins is charming as Soot, Stella's spectre sidekick who helps her prevail.

The Saxby Hall sets are fantastically eerie and the puppetry scenes with Wagner - the mean owl turned good - add to the evening's enjoyment.

Auntie Alberta with her pet owl Wagner

Auntie Alberta with her pet owl Wagner

Awful Auntie is only on Wearside for a short time so make sure you don't miss it. You'll feel awful if you do!

For tickets for Awful Auntie, visit http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/awful-auntie/sunderland-empire/

* To make your visit even more special, take the kids along to Get Creative - an interactive pre-show themed activity session for under 11s and their families, led by the Creative Learning department.

The Get Creative Awful Auntie Workshop is hosted by the friendly ghost of ‘Lady Jane Saxby’, the very first lady Saxby and great, great grandma to Stella. Children will take part in themed games, craft activities and storytelling, as well as receive an activity pack and soft drink, with a non-alcoholic drink for accompanying adults.

Entry costs £7.50 per person (excludes show ticket), children must be accompanied by a paying adult.