Review: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

By December 14, 2015

Theatre & Dance. Leeds.

All photographs credited to Alastair Muir

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang bubbles with energy and enthusiasm from the very first moment. The show requires a sparkling cast, and the production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse certainly displays some stunning performances.

Loveable inventor Caractacus Potts (Jon Robyns) and his two children Jeremy and Jemima (played adorably by Henry Kent and Caitlin Surtees) are in trouble when wicked Baron and Baroness Bomburst set their hearts on the Potts’ much-loved car, Chitty. When the Potts family, along with new friend Truly Scrumptious (Amy Griffiths), end up in Vulgaria they are on a mission to save their magical car. But with the evil Childcatcher (Stephen Matthews) on the lookout, they have a much harder task than they first thought!

Jon Robyns leads the cast as Caractacus Potts with endless charm and talent – he brings vulnerability to the role whilst remaining entertaining and lively throughout. He dances his way through big numbers, effortlessly moving from one challenging scene and song to another. Robyns is a supreme talent, and brings magic to this show. Amy Griffiths is also sweet as Truly Scrumptious, and my favourite song of the night was Doll On A Music Box.


The sillier, and at times Panto-esque, side of the show comes from the Vulgarian characters. I lost interest in Baron and Baroness Bomburst after a while, though their spies Boris and Goran keep the laughs coming. Sam Harrison’s Boris and Scott Paige’s Goran are staggeringly funny, and the audience were in hoots every time they appeared on stage.

James Brining’s direction and Stephen Mear’s choreography ensures the show is modern and bursting with joy. Personally, I find the songs in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang really rather irritating, yet the energised acting and visually stunning dancing and movement keeps the whole audience engaged.

For those expecting a spectacular flying car, do limit your expectations. The car essentially moves up and down, but it is still visually effective. There is clever use of video projection and lighting throughout, which really adds to the atmosphere. For a Truly Scrumptious evening, why not visit the West Yorkshire Playhouse and see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – but be warned… that song will stay in your head for days!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on until 30th January 2016 before touring. If you want to find out more about the exceptionally talented Jon Robyns, check out my Q&A with him!