Review: The Cat in the Hat

February 10, 2010

The Cat in the Hat

Based on the books by Dr Seuss, Katie Mitchel directs The Cat in the Hat in an action packed adventure of a naughty cat who comes to play with two children who are bored one rainy day. This childrens show is simply superb in its entertainment for children and adults alike, delivering a fast paced bouncing and eye popping performance.

There are so many parts of Mitchel’s production that can be praised. Firstly it delivers pure entertainment for children in a short but sweet burst of 35 minutes (I’m sure that some people would relish more). Secondly it has a design that fits so perfectly with the original book that it makes me wonder if the illustrations hadn’t come to life themselves to perform. Thirdly, the sound and music is cheeky and brilliantly executed.

Mitchel has brought together a team of creatives who deserve the sell out shows that The Cat in the Hat is receiving from their National Theatre to Young Vic transfer. Vicki Mortimer’s design takes on a cartoon effect that is portrayed in all the props and costume. Paul Clark and Gareth Fry’s Music/Sound Design combined puts the piece in a world of it’s own. Coupled with the wacky direction from Katie Mitchel, The Cat in the Hat is stunning.

Thing 1, and Thing 2

The production borders on extreme chaos and something of a nightmare, which would explain why children love it, (and in some cases leave crying!). It is completely absurd and without a doubt wacky, but this only makes it more enjoyable.

The cast manage to keep up with this fast paced piece, hitting all the humour that the show needs. They are equally receptive to the younger audiences, playing upon their interjections and laughter. Angus Wright as the Cat in the Hat is seductive and humorous in his portrayal of the mischievous cat. Luisa and Sandra Guerreiro are brilliantly freakish as Thing 1 and Thing 2. There is nothing more frightful than an energetic pair of twins wearing red jump suits and blue wigs.

It’s good to see a production that has followed completely with a theme, that is reflected in all aspects – design, sound, direction and acting. Children’s theatre needs to be bold, engaging and above all enjoyable for those little spectators. The Cat in the Hat ticks all the right boxes, and includes some real mouth opening moments, especially during a balancing act of a fish, umbrella, plates, cups, books, milk tray, little red ship all balancing whilst the cat stands proudly on a ball. Brilliant!

The Cat in the Hat is another great example at showing how imaginative and engaging childrens theatre can be, even for those of us who aren’t quite children anymore.

The Cat in the Hat is playing at the Young Vic until 13th March. Tickets are very limited so queuing for returns is the best way of getting tickets. See the website for more details.


Review: Rigged

October 14, 2009

Rigged at the Unicorn Theatre

Life is full of choices, some as small as deciding what clothes to wear of a morning, others more life changing such your education and career, starting a family or knowing when to ask for help. We make choices constantly, and the choices never stop being made, regardless of what age we are.

Rigged playing at the Unicorn Theatre is all about these choices.

Each of the characters at some point within Ashmeed Sohoye’s new play has to make a decision, a choice, be it right from wrong, or significant life changes. These choices certainly aren’t easy and certainly provoke moral questions.

Staged within the Clore Studio Theatre of the Unicorn Theatre, Rigged is a challenging piece. It forces the spectator to think and possibly question those decisions which we have seen and heard many times before. When is right right? Or when is wrong wrong? Questions which aren’t easily answered.

Natalie Wilson, Theatre Centre’s artistic director and director of Rigged uses a blend of stylistic transitions, music and lighting to punctuate this new piece of writing. Although at times the ‘movement’ between scenes grew a little tiresome, the general feel of the piece resonated through every closely chosen detail.

A growing sense of anger, of a sense of ‘I want more than just this’ is said beneath every line and clenched fist.

Whilst I believe the writing needs some more work to fully bring the piece to life, what I admired about Rigged is its accessibility. It was a treat to be surrounded by an audience so vibrant in ages, and all appreciating the piece itself. Speaking in a matter of fact manner, the characters of Sarah and Nathan are easily likened to those that we witness within our society and schools.

Equally the moral dilemmas raised within Rigged are ones which are prominent within our current society. Teenage pregnancy, school drop outs and gambiling are constant issues that are being raised on a yearly basis. Yet with each of issues comes the matter of choice, and thus the theme of Rigged. At what point do you turn around and say no, enough is enough?.

The casting for Rigged is perfect. Hats off to Niamh Webb who plays Sarah as the cocky-mouthed teen who falls pregnaunt yet aspires to be something much more than just a mother. Equally Kyle Summercorn as the aggressive school drop out, Nathan, shows a vast array of controlled anger and violence but equally a funny character. Daisy Whyte as the mother, Kathy, who lacks the ability to read; plays a sensitive part, weighing out the balance of anger within the piece. Lastly Paul Clerkin as the step-father, Gary, shows that behind a gambling exterier he is just as sensitive and wanting more from the life he has chosen.

Rigged is educational without being preachy. It’s functional without being over simplified. And it’s full of potential for both teens and adults.

Rigged is on at the Unicorn Theatre until 17th October, see their website for more details.