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Demon Dentist - Theatre Royal, Nottingham Review

Strap in for an appointment with the nastiness dentist you'll ever know as Birmingham Stage Company takes on a new adaption of the David Walliams story. 

Sam Varley (Alfie), Emily Harrigan (Miss Root), Georgia Grant-Anderson (Gabz) and Misha Malcolm (Winnie). Photo by Mark Douet

The premise follows the children of a town who when putting teeth under their pillows for the Tooth Fairy are waking up to find all kinds of horrors when they wake up. This happens at the same time as the arrival of a new dentist in the town, Miss Root. It's up to young Alfie and his 'not girlfriend' Gabz to discover what is really happening and to stop these mysterious happening.

It's undoubtedly quite a dark story, and I'm not sure the children in the audience will be enthused about their own next trips to the dentist! But it does have its own usual Walliams-style quirkiness too and thankfully that is what lifts it from being too heavy.

The 45-minute first act does feel quite lengthy as it spends much of the time setting up the story, it lacks any real humour. The second half is instantly lifted by the arrival of Raj, played superbly by Zain Abrahams, which gives the whole production a much-needed boost. The second act plays out at a great non-stop pace as the show heads to its conclusion. 

Jacqueline Trousdale's fantastic visual design is wonderfully inventive in locating the production with various rooms. The set pieces are cleverly staged and the scene changes are seamless. I won't spoil the ending but the whole set piece is magnificently pulled off in terms of the design. Jason Taylor's lighting design helps in adding danger and darkness to the production.

Adaptor, director and lyricist Neal Foster provides some lovely tunes for the production, whilst this isn't a musical the songs are well-placed and well-written. The sound doesn't always balance the track with the on-stage voices and that can make the words difficult to hear. 

Sam Varley (Alfie) and Georgia Grant-Anderson (Gabz). Photo by Mark Douet

Sam Varley is an energetic Alfie, boundless in enthusiasm but sometimes what is being said gets a little lost in his accent. He creates some wonderful relationships though, particularly with James Mitchell who plays his Dad. Their bond is wholesome and deeply touching as Dad battles illness. Georgia Grant-Anderson impresses as Gabz, she has a real no-fear attitude, and she bounces excellently with Varley's Alfie, especially as they play the 'not girlfriend' part. 

Emily Harrigan has a hoot playing the deliciously horrid Miss Root, she is pure nasty, managing to navigate the thin line of becoming something of a pantomime-style baddie well. She's not someone you'd want to meet as you sit in the dental chair. Harrigan shows great vocals too, especially in the act one closing number.

Misha Malcolm is lovely as Winnie, the social worker who is placed to support Alfie and his Dad. Her performance grows throughout and by the end, it's something really great. Ben Eagle has fun playing some comedy roles including PC Plank.

Zain Abrahams is a complete breath of fresh air as Raj. He is hilariously funny and has the kids and the adults on his side. Anyone familiar with the Walliams stories will know that Raj is a feature in all of them.

Demon Dentist does enough to provide fun escapism that is engaging for the younger audience and that is its main purpose. There could be more laughter but it plays the darker elements well. Book an appointment and see what you think.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Demon Dentist plays at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until Sunday 23rd April. Tickets are available from The tour continues with dates through until July full tour information can be found at

The cast of Demon Dentist. Photo by Mark Douet

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