Designer Kate Unwin was the woman tasked with transforming Roald Dahl’s imaginary world, giant peach and all, into a stage set and costumes.
“I was a massive Dahl fan as a child and managed to dig out my original copy from when I was about 12 and read it,” said the 38-year-old.
“The fact I was reading it, knowing I had to design it, was quite terrifying but there was a lot of detail I had forgotten.”
Her first task for Sell A Door Theatre Company's production of James and the Giant Peach was to work out how to create the huge peach that had to fill the stage but then be packed away into a suitcase.
“I spoke with director Bronagh Lagan and we came up with the notion of having an inflatable peach," she said.
"There is company near where I live – Imagine Inflatables – that specialises in that sort of thing so I got in touch with them and they said ‘Yes of course we can make a giant inflatable peach’.”
The result is an intricate four-metre wide fruit that revolves on stage to reveal a cut-out section that the actors can step inside.
“The hardest part of the design has been the different locations,” said Kate who has worked for the National Theatre. “The peach starts in the garden and grows and then rolls down the hill – it has to do a lot of different things.”
Her other biggest challenge has been creating tentacles for a octopus and costumes for James’ giant insect friends.
“They are sculptural with legs dangling and eyes wobbling on their heads.
“I spent a lot of time wandering around B&Q thinking about what I could use – things like pipe lagging and ping pong balls and rope and fabric.”
Kate spent more than three days making the Centipede costume alone, which features 42 handmade shoes and said: “This is up there as one of the most crazy things I have done.”
James And The Giant Peach, various times, Thursday, April 21-24, from £14, Greenwich Theatre
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