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: Been So Long

July 6, 2009
Showing at the Young Vic Theatre

Showing at the Young Vic Theatre

Raunchy, Oozing in sexual appeal, and some bloody good singing, this is the Young Vic’s current production of Been So Long.

It would be true to say that I had no expectations for this show, no idea in fact about what the show was about, let alone the style and content.

My thoughts are quite simple when you strip them back to the basics. This musical has the ability to entertain the audience tremendously. I’m not one for laughing loudly in public, especially not spontaneously, but it’s hard not to with Che Walkers words/lyrics and direction. Walker has managed to combine both an urban language with a poetic form, to create a dialogue packed with witty ‘street talk’ and outstanding descriptions of crude sexual fantasy.

Maybe I should have guessed from the title that possibly this was about sex, love and everything in between. There were moments where some of the text seemed a little too pushed in a crude manner, yet this only made it more entertaining. Especially with lines like, “I only have to look at a woman and she gives birth to my baby” (or something close to this). Walker if anything has a magical sense of language, especially in the context of this night club setting.

The acting is questionable – only in comparision to the performers outstanding singing. I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with the dialogue until the singing begun.

These have to be, some of the most talented singers I have ever encountered in a musical of this small scale. The leading small cast together with 3 backing singers brought hairs to stand up on my neck multiple times during this performance, through their singing ability alone.

Harry Hepple playing the rude boy of Gil stole the show for me, mainly because I did not expect such an angelic voice to come from such a ‘thug-like-character’. A real treat to hear him sing, desperately seeking a loss girl from some 6 years previous. Walker managing to mix both a tragic and comedic tale through beautiful singing of Hepple.

Now whilst I enjoyed this production, it has to be said that the story is simple to say the least. It couldn’t hold on its own, and if it was not the glorious singing I would not have rated this production highly at all. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself and would recommend to see it, but it has it’s flaws.

The story seems to be a bit washed-out, as if it had to be pushed to one side to allow for more musical numbers. Whilst this made for a more entertaining experience the whole piece lacks depth due to it’s one dimensional story. Alas, you can’t have it all it would appear.

My last comment is that there needs to be more musicals like this, more musicals with an empathsis on the urban, black directed cast. It was just a shame that the majority of the audience were made up of white theatre goers, but perhaps it was just the performance I was at. Been So Long certainly deserves a wider, diverse audience.

Been So Long is running at the Young Vic until 15th July 2009 – Booking via their website: Young Vic Website