DAVID Walliams has the Midas touch when it comes to children's books that can switch seamlessly to the stage.

Gangsta Granny enjoyed sell-out audiences at the Floral Pavilion.

Now his latest book-to-stage hit Awful Auntie is on world premiere tour.

Walliams knows what appeals to kids and adults as reflected in his collection of crazy characters in Little Britain.

All his solo works in print and on stage come with a moral whether it is respect for elders, lost childhood or friendship.

This comedy ghost story also looks at class.

Aunt Alberta is a sure fire boo and hiss character.

Here 'she' is played by a 'he.' 

It's a role that would suit Walliams who loves dressing as a ladee.

But there's nothing 'ladee–like' in this horrible aunt played with gusto and glee by Timothy Speyer.

At times I was reminded of Matt Lucas in full anarchic flow.

Alberta, dressed like a colour-blind Toad from Wind in The Willows, is a grotesque creation with a voice sounding like a shrill Anne Widdecombe meets Brian Blessed.

Adapter and director Neal Foster, from the Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories, is a dab hand at adapting Walliams ideas.

Here he keeps a fast pace for the two-hour (including interval) show that is not a musical but has atmospheric spooky music from composer Jak Poore.

And so to the plot with all the action taking place in a stately home with clever set featuring four rotating turrets from Jacqueline Trousdale.

Young Lady Stella (Georgina Leonidas) is an orphan.

Her parents killed in a car crash on their way to Saxby Hall.

Stella has spent three weeks in a coma and awakes to meet the seemingly adorable Auntie Alberta.

Enter a cheeky ghost ... a cockney chimney sweep called Soot played with real charm and sparkle by Ashley Cousins.

Oh and a Bavarian owl called Wagner – he's a real hoot.

Roberta Bellekom is the puppeteer who brings the bird to life.

It seems Alberta wants the deeds to the mansion but Stella and Soot team up to challenge the ogre.

A slapstick scene in Alberta's bedroom and bathroom as Katie Bell - proves a real hit with the children.

Actress Georgina, who has appeared in the Harry Potter films as Katie Bell, is on stage for most of the production so full marks to this versatile performer.

And well done to Richard James as the batty butler Gibbon who is in a world of his own providing plenty of surreal laughs.

There is, however, one production factor I must mention - the arrival of the interval needs to be given more emphasis.

Many people in the audience weren't quite sure it was time for a break after the 45 minutes first half.

Awful Auntie is a novel thriller that packs a lot in and will appease the writer’s fans.

Williams knows the magic formula for appealing to all ages with entertainments shows full of light and shade and plenty of toilet gags to keep youngsters - aged five and above - happy.

Adults, too, seem more than pleased to accompany their children to such lively shows.

High-spirited family fun - four stars  

The show is on until Saturday.

Tickets from the box office on 0151 666 0000.