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Sam Varley- interview

Another of David Walliam's bestselling children's books has been transformed for the stage, as Demon Dentist is now touring the UK across various venues. Following Alfie and his friend as they search for the cause of a mysterious trouble, their adventures lands themselves facing the dreaded Demon Dentist herself!

Keep reading to hear Sam Varley discussing being a central part to this production.


Please can you tell us a little bit about this stage adaptation of Demon Dentist?

Demon Dentist is an action-packed, fun-filled family show with comedy, fun and heart for

audiences of all ages! It follows the tale of a poor young boy forced to care for his dad, who comes

face to face with a real life demon. It’s a fast-paced, mile-a-minute spooky comedy caper with a

beautiful message about familial love and found family at the centre of it.

What does it mean to you being in this show, particularly taking on the lead role?

I still wake up and pinch myself most mornings. I’m wildly aware of how lucky I am to be working on

such a beautiful piece with a team that consistently inspire me. Since the show is brand new, I had

the chance to really play around in the creation of my character and flex creatively in a way that you

so rarely get to do as an actor, so it’s been a deeply gratifying experience.

Taking on the lead role of Alfie has been no mean feat, and I certainly take pride in it- but in all

honesty, what makes it infinitely easier is being surrounded by a truly phenomenal cast. It’s like

getting to experience the entire show from the best seat in the house every night, and I still adore it

even now, months into the run. That’s entirely down to them. I count my blessings every day.

How are family shows like this important in having an impact on children watching theatre?

Stories like this one really highlight the necessity of accessibility in theatre. It is vital to emotional

development that children are subjected to high quality media that engages them, entertains them,

and subtly helps them deal with difficult issues like poverty, disability and loss that they might not

yet have the tools to face in their own lives. I feel passionately that children’s theatre that is both

hilarious and exciting but poignant and beautiful, is an experience that every child deserves,

regardless of their background.

How are you preparing to adjust the performance to each space in the venues across the tour?

We do have a few very small alterations, such as sometimes having to travel a little further on a

larger stage for example. However, we’ve been very lucky to have an incredible set designer, Jackie

Trousdale, who has made a versatile set that takes the different venues into account, so the world of the show feels just as epic and grandiose no matter which venue you come to.

What are you most looking forward to with this production?

This is probably the most unique project I’ve ever worked on- the world that it takes place in is

weird, wacky, wonderful and strangely magnetic in a way that makes it a joy to spend time in. I’m

extremely proud of what we’ve created and I’m so excited to be able to welcome as many people as

possible into Alfie’s town so they can experience the magic for themselves!

What’s your favourite childhood book, and why- would you want to see it turned into theatre if it isn’t already?

I was a huge reader of all sorts of things as a kid, but the one I always came back to was Neil

Gaiman’s Coraline. It creeped me out but enamoured me in a way that made me cover my eyes,

but keep reading through my fingers. As a young child, it is easy to feel like you have no idea what’s

going on in the real world, so it was almost therapeutic to be launched into a surrealist world like

that one where everybody else was just as confused as you are. That eery but enthralling sense of

surrealism is something that I think can be captured in the medium of theatre in a way unlike any

other. I’m only peripherally aware of Stephin Merrit’s Coraline musical, but I’d love to see it some


Where do you hope your acting career takes you?

In originating the role of Alfie I’ve had the opportunity to really put my own creative stamp onto a

complex, flawed, but ultimately lovable character. I’m doing exactly what my 11-year-old self

dreamed I’d get to do, and for that I feel immensely proud. 

I only hope I get to keep telling stories I’m passionate about for a very long time.


What a lovely interview! Thanks very much Sam for telling us more about the show and I really wish you all the best for the tour and beyond.

Get your tickets for various tour venues here:

Additional thanks to Alice James for coordinating this interview.


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