The flying car was the star but Petersfield Youth Theatre rose to the occasion in their excellent take on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

First things first, the car was simply magnificent. You could even be forgiven for thinking the floatable, flying proficient and say-please-vehicle was above the Festival Hall stage thanks to some clever mechanics and use of dry ice.

But Chitty was also brought to life by an impressive young cast and some memorable numbers, with bigger often proving better in Josh Lay’s ambitious production.

There was a believable chemistry between Potts (Benjamin Greening) and Truly (Xanthe Woolrych) with the latter being one of the stand-outs thanks to her beautiful singing voice and performance in Doll in a Music Box.

A bendy Josh Baty played the eccentricity card perfectly as Grandpa, Susie Udall caught the ear as the Toy Maker while siblings Jemima and Jeremy (Evie Scott-Walsha and George Hayduk) had just the right level of childish excitement.

Aside from the impressive Potts’ family windmill the sets were fairly sparse, allowing more focus on the actors belying their  young ages.

The Vulgarians added a hint of panto – especially the Cropley brothers as Boris and Goran, who were a hoot – and Ben Sellers was pleasingly OTT as a slightly psychotic Child Catcher. You also have to admire the irony of kids playing the roles of adults in a land with no children. 

Paul Ferguson