IT’S a tall order playing a giant, but Lancashire actor Anthony Pedley has had plenty of practise.
The theatre veteran first played the title role in The BFG, based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book, in 1991. Since then he’s clocked up more than 1,600 performances and is currently touring in a brand-new production – which calls into the Birmingham Rep this week.
“To be honest I hadn’t read the BFG when I first auditioned,” he said. “I didn’t have any children and I wasn’t a child when Roald Dahl was writing so his books had passed me by. But when I read the story I thought it was a great idea and said that I would love to play the character.”
If you haven’t read – or won’t admit to having read – Dahl’s original story, then here’s the premise. A young girl called Sophie is abducted by the Big Friendly Giant, a creature whose heart is as large as his body.
Unfortunately, the other giants are not nearly as nice – in fact they’re downright rotters. Can Sophie and her gentle friend put a stop to their bone-crunching antics?
To create the sense of scale on stage, there’s plenty of trickery. Props, costumes and other devices are used and, in the second half, Anthony climbs into a 16ft puppet...
But as it turns out, the actor has even bigger shoes to fill away from the BFG. For several years he’s taken his one-man show – dedicated to Roald Dahl himself – to schools, theatres and festivals. So why does Anthony think that the writer’s tales remain so popular.
“Roald Dahl’s books are rude,” explained the RADA graduate. “That’s why children love him. In all his books adults are the enemy, so you’ve got this anarchic feel and plenty of rude bits.
Especially in the BFG – because we spend so much of the time whizzpopping!”
The BFG will be on at the Birmingham Rep until Saturday. To find out more visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk.