When we were asked to review The Cat in the Hat at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham we were all very excited. I remember the joy the girls had when they picked up the Dr Seuss book and realised they could read every word without help. It was one of those books which give children the joy of reading which will last a lifetime. This incredible show feels like you have been transported into the pages of the story, and what a thrilling adventure it is.
The illustrations in The Cat in the Hat are so distinctive with the bold black and white drawings and blue and red colour palette. This works brilliantly in the set design which looks like a 3D illustration from the book. Charlotte said she wanted to jump on stage and colour it in! This simple backdrop makes the characters and action really pop.
The story starts with the two children bored on a wet and rainy day. The endearing performance from Sam Angell as the boy and Melissa Lowe as Sally is beautifully observed. All parents will regognice the scenes of siblings entertaining themselves by getting on each other’s nerves. There is such attention to detail. I love the fact the boy has a little plaster on his knee. The actors strike up an instant rapport with the audience and are soon the audience is laughing and ducking the water pistols shooting water. There was a hiccup with a prop at the start of the show but the cast carried on which that it seemed like part of the show. The cast did an incredible job of staying in character and ad lib.
The action in the show is incredibly well choreographed, it is like a dance. Every movement has an accompanying sound effect. This is a show which will appeal to the youngest child but will also have the adults chuckling along. We all thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The fish played by Charley Magalit is the voice of reason in the show but even she is given a fresh spin in this show. She appears in a giant bubble and harangues the other characters in a style which is in part operatic and part angry parent.
“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how. “The Cat in the Hat
One of my favourite things about the show was the performance of Nana Amoo-Gottfried as the eponymous Cat. There is none of the creepiness of the films instead he is a charming trickster who just wants to have fun. There is a mischievous glint in his eye and the audience is swept along with his schemes, wanting him to do yet more dangerous tricks. The stunts themselves are incredible. We couldn’t work out how they would manage to balance on a chair holding a variety of household items yet he does just that.
“In this box are two thingsThe Cat in the Hat
I will show to you now.
you will like these two things,
said the cat with a bow.
When it was time for the interval we realised that we still hadn’t met our favourite characters from the book Thing 1 and Thing 2. Just like the twins, they leave a trail of destruction in their wake! After the first half, we couldn’t wait to see them come to life.
We were not disappointed. Thing 1 and Thing 2, played by Celia Francis and Robert Penny were simply adorable with matching red outfits and crazy blue hair. They were like a breath of fresh air, bringing energy and vivacity to the stage. Their anarchic energy means you don’t quite know what they are going to do next. They climb the walls and perform unbelievable acrobatic tricks, all the while destroying the house. The show is put on by Curve and Rose Theatre Kingston, in association with the National Centre for Circus Arts. You can definitely feel the influence of the circus on the performance.
There was something so joyous and colourful about this show. The young audience was utterly enthralled. My favourite songs from the show came at the end. When the cat realises his game has gone too far his sorrowful song is so delightfully over the top it is farcical. We also loved the tidy up song. I’d love to have a copy of this to play to my class at
The Cat in the Hat is on until the 3rd of March. You can then catch it in theatres across the country, Tunbridge Wells, Southampton and Newcastle, before ending the tour at Rose Theatre Kingston 10 – 21 April 2019.
Disclaimer: We were given tickets for the press night of the show.