Things are Looking Peachy for Families and Theatre-Lovers in Frome

Teatime inside the Peach; credit Dave MerrittFavourite local theatre venue, The Merlin, in Frome, is embracing and celebrating the end of the year in traditional upbeat fashion by putting on its annual, full scale, community Christmas theatre show. Professionally directed, with a cast and crew of over 40 local talented people, including a team of little dancers provided by the Tri.Art dance school, this year brings a musical storytelling of James and the Giant Peach for a six-show run in December.

This modern version of a much-loved tale, scripted by renown author and actor, David Wood, is accompanied by original music from musical director, Benjamin Hardy-Phillips. Tunes and songs specially composed to accompany Roald Dahl’s exuberant, funny nonsense-rhymes and glorious words, for which is so admired, are sung and played live on-stage by the actors.

Presented with a combination of naturalistic and stylised storytelling techniques, inspired and influenced by the current contemporary vogue for physical theatre, this play has more than a passing nod to the 1960s in its rich and humourous costume design by Ellen Day.  The tale of poor James, living a blissful life by the sea, suddenly orphaned when a rhinoceros eats both his parents, is the perfect showcase for dramatic tension and skilled acting as well as incredible visual puppetry from Robin Ainslie-King and Alex Smart, as well as enchanting animation by Howard Vause.

The cast of James and the Giant Peach; photo credit Dave MerrittFor those unfamiliar with the book, James is sent to live with his two cruel aunts, Sponge and Spiker, who mistreat and bully him, making him sleep on the floor.  However, as in all good fantasy stories, a mysterious stranger arrives with a gift.  Not to give the whole story away, but the gift, of magic crystals, spills into the earth and, as a tree emerges, so too does the eponymous peach.

It grows to the size of a house and this is where the real adventures begin. James’s life transforms through an amazing journey with the new friends he makes along the way including Spider, Ladybird, Grasshopper, Earthworm and Centipede.

Set inside and around a giant peach, this delicious, new re-imagining of a classic tale features original choreography from Amy Morgan-Bell.  In keeping with its current style, director, Claudia Pepler opted to disregard the more traditional genders in casting. When the audition day turned up mostly men in the room, as she tells us, “We simply took the best ‘people’ for the roles so we do have some cross-casting but this is not drag or panto.  After all, we are putting on a show about talking insects living inside a giant piece of fruit, so we didn’t feel any need to temper our glorious imaginations at any point. After all it’s Christmas and this is the theatre. What’s not to love?!”

James and the Giant Peach runs from 7th – 10th December with six performances including a ‘relaxed’ show at 11am on Saturday 10th.

Full times, prices and booking details available via