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A holiday treat for children at the Bristol Hippodrome…

If you needed proof as to the popularity of David Walliams’ books, the busy and excited crowd of children and their parents at the Bristol Hippodrome last night was spot on. Demon Dentist is in town, the latest stage adaptation of Walliams’ work, following the success of Billionaire Boy and Gangsta Granny, and my 12 year old and his mate were really keen to give it a go.

Now, while to me, as a boring old adult, the production seemed poorly conceived, with a lazy plot and awful songs – no, I didn’t like it – the children were having a great time (as, to be fair, where a number of the other parents there too!), which was clearly the main thing.

The plot sees Alfie, played with great energy by Sam Varley, and his friend Gabz (Georgia Grant-Anderson) investigating strange events in their town, which has seen children leaving their teeth under their pillows for the tooth fairy and waking up to find grizzly gifts, including worms and dead mice, in place of the money they were hoping for.

Could it be a coincidence that these strange events are taking place just as the town’s sinister new dentist, Miss ‘call me mummy’ Root (Emily Harrigan), moves to the area? Certainly when she gives out acidic toothpaste and sweets to the Alfie’s friends at a school assembly, his suspicions are raised, and then confirmed when he’s forced to attend the dentist’s surgery for a check-up that goes very wrong indeed!

Along the way, we’re introduced to Alfie’s dad (James Mitchell) at home, disabled as a result of breathing in too much coat dust while working at the local mine, and his social worker, Winnie. Then, as always, we have Raj (Zain Abrahams), the owner of the local sweet shop, a good friend of Alfie’s, always on the look-out for a bargain and a regular in all of Walliams’ books.

Along the way there are plenty of fart and bum jokes to keep the children happy, and sufficient menace from the evil dentist to illicit a little fear too. My youngest and his mate, while suggesting that the child actors looked a bit old for their parts, clearly loved it, saying that the plot was very close to the book, they liked the extra details that have been added in and that, “It’s funny in a way that’s hard to explain.”

So clearly my critical view was completely out of touch with the applause, giggles and cheers around me. After all, Demon Dentist is all about the children, and they clearly loved it.

Demon Dentist at the Bristol Hippodrome runs until 8 April 2023. For more information and to book tickets, go to