James and the Giant Peach | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

James and the Giant Peach


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


James and the Giant Peach, Inequity Theatrical Collaboration, at the Cornservatory. Richard R. George's adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book for this late-night, adult-oriented show dumbs down the original's wicked humor into silly sexually tinged camp. Thrown in are a few songs by Joseph Stearns.

In George's version, directed by Lewis Lain Jr., a group of New York misfits remember their glory days by putting on a play about their adventures in a giant peach. Dahl's story is about James's courage and resourcefulness in the face of fantastic adversity--to begin with, his parents are killed by a rhinoceros. But here James (Bucky Cross) is almost invisible; instead George focuses on the good-natured eccentrics (mostly bugs) around him. The wise grasshopper (Scott Harris) is a pot-smoking hippie. And James's greedy, vicious, doomed aunts have been turned into prostitutes (a sardonic Genevieve Pritchard and amusing Adam Lenehan, who plays Aunt Spiker as if she were a high Drew Barrymore).

George's adaptation often feels like an excuse for puns and double entendres--but the production looks beautiful. Nancy Freeman's wondrous storybook sets could have been created by Dahl himself. Joan Pritchard's costumes are inventive, especially a centipede covered in socks and seagull masks that have moving wings. And Christina Harris's cheerful choreography breaks up what could otherwise have been a long hour.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →