facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

First Published 26 June 2013, Last Updated 1 July 2013

More than 20 years after his death, Roald Dahl has never been so popular, with the West End’s Matilda The Musical breaking records and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory setting up chocolatey-camp down the road with equally entertaining results.

Sam Mendes’ slick and visually spectacular take on the classic retains all of Dahl’s deliciously dark, wickedly witty elements and adds a colourful sprinkling of West End magic and subtle 21st century updates. While Charlie Bucket and his mostly bedridden family inhabit a dilapidated shack, that seems like it has been lifted straight from Dahl’s iconic illustrator Quentin Blake’s imagination, his golden ticket friends are not quite so Dickensian.

In Mendes and playwright David Greig’s hands, the aggressive Mike Teavee is transformed into a video game addict who exists in a fluorescent strobe-lit world, causing his Stepford-wife mother to turn to shots of ‘mummy water’ and pharmaceuticals. The gluttonous Augustus Gloop is an obese Bavarian beefcake with a penchant for sausages, while Violet Beauregarde is a rap star called the Double Bubble Duchess, whose ability to chew has brought her not only fame but her own perfume range, a rather unattractive sense of entitlement and an entourage with dollar bills in their eyes.

Of course, the queen of entitlement remains the wonderfully spoilt Veruca Salt whose David Dickinson-esque father exhaustingly pampers as she pirouettes and pouts, before disappearing swiftly when she finds herself in her very own surreal version of The Nutcracker, with man-sized squirrels in place of the traditional mouse army. In contrast, Charlie is a delight, although while we may fall in love with his unassuming, polite, gracious ways, he’s equally as likeable for the mischievous twinkle in his eye and his love of daydreaming about liquorice shoestrings and marzipan molars.

From edible gardens to chocolate waterfalls, human mirrorballs, a room full of intuitive squirrels and a spinning wheel of ingredients producing wacky and wonderful confectionery from your wildest dreams, Mendes’ show is packed with inventive surprises and magical wonders delivered on Mark Thompson’s techicoloured set. At the heart of this magic is, of course, Willy Wonka, played with a devilish edge by the accomplished Douglas Hodge, who reinvents the iconic role for himself, playing the slightly psychotic character as a born entertainer with a sarcastic wit and sentimental heart.

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s sassy lyrics match Greig’s witty script and, while the one song you inevitably come away singing is the classic Pure Imagination, their endlessly inventive score keeps every scene fresh, ranging from electro pop for Mike’s technology-induced demise to 70s pop for Violet’s waist-popping explosion and sweet musical theatre classics for Bucket’s poverty stricken family who find fun and love in every situation.

But what of those famous Oompa-Loompas? To say too much would give away some of the show’s most hilarious moments, but it’s fair to divulge that Mendes has shied away from anything high-tech, instead employing old-fashioned manpower, black leotards and a series of clever tactics, from platformed roller-skates to cardboard boxes, to produce the famously short statured helpers who in this production chuckle away with joy and fill the looming factory with intriguing shadows.

With standout performances from the hugely talented child cast, scrumptious design, a book that fully embraces Dahl’s wicked sense of humour and a heartwarming conclusion that will send you into the night on a high from the vivid world you have just experienced, Mendes’ production will take you on an irresistible adventure. As Charlie says, you may have had dreams that are incredible, but this one is edible.


Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.