The Cat in the Hat by Curve & Rose Theatre was a very good production and caused delight among the mostly very young audience. Some of the children screamed with enjoyment.
The Cat in the Hat is an adaptation of the book with the same name by Dr Seuss. It is a story about what happens to two young children, Sally and Boy, who are left alone, bored, at home on a cold and rainy day. When a strange cat arrives, it brings all sorts of magical fun. The cat also brings two identical naughty ones, called Thing 1 and Thing 2, to play. Thing 1 and Thing 2 leap around and make a big mess. The children’s pet goldfish is worried about the strange cat and the mess. But the children have a great time. Just before the cat leaves, it uses a magical machine to tidy the house perfectly, so that the children’s mum won’t get cross.
The play moved at a fast and energetic pace. The characters interacted with the audience very well. I really liked the singing, dancing and the impressive tricks the characters all performed. Thing 1 and Thing 2, played by Celia Francis (who used to be an international gymnast) and Robert Penny did many flips that left the audience ooh-ing and ah-ing. We even got to join in with some of the dances. When Charley Magalit appeared in a giant bubble as the pet goldfish, it caused much excitement. Sally and Boy had a very interactive water fight that got a lot of the audience wet; it was very enjoyable.
My only problem with the play was that Nana Amoo-Gottfried seemed to be underacting his part of the Cat. His theatre credits include many of Shakespeare’s plays, so maybe he is not used to such a crazy and quirky production. I do think he was acting like a Shakespearian performer. He could have been a bit more over the top.
Despite this though, I like this play a lot. It fizzed and bubbled with irresistible fun.
Accompanying adult comments:
There was a lot of quirky charm in Curve &Rose Theatre Kingston’s production of The Cat in the Hat, a classic story about using your imagination to brighten up a cold and rainy day. The production was beautifully staged with stunning, graphics sets and bright, whimsical costumes from Isla Shaw. The sound design was gorgeous; full of fun effects that added to the eccentric charm of the physical comedy.
While the actors who played Boy and Sally did a wonderful job engaging the very young audience full of 3 to 4-year olds, the Cat, who should have been electrifying, seemed unable to fully engage the little ones. For a production that is billed as “gloriously bonkers”, the Cat’s performance was relatively subdued and rather tasteful. With a theatre full of 3-year olds, tasteful was not what was required. The very distinguished actor, who played the Cat, Nana Amoo-Gottfried, could have ramped up, and camped up, his performance to a whole new level and may have shared in the squeals of delight that the other actors elicited.
The actors who played Thing 1 and Thing 2, Celia Francis and Robert Penny, were energetic, wriggly and exciting. Leaping and diving across the stage, they energised the second half of the production with lots of acrobatics and physical comedy. Here, again, the beautifully designed costumes contributed so much to the characterisation.
One slightly jarring note in the production was the standard of singing. With the honourable exception of Charley Magalit, who played the delicate goldfish and whose voice soared across the theatre, the other actors’ singing voices were sweet but not strong. This meant that the recorded accompanying music, which often included a very loud, booming bass-line, drowned out some of the songs. I’m not sure that the little ones minded.
My favourite moment in the whole production was the fish’s solo, where Charley Magalit, tiptoed delicately onto the stage in a large bubble, filled with glittery flakes. In her beautiful orange baroque dress and white, Marie Antoinette wig, she sang a mixture of girlie pop and opera; a fairy tale dream of beauty, kitsch and whimsy. Including this type of performance art in a child’s production was an inspired decision and many of the little ones were stunned.
The music, by Tasha Taylor Johnson, was original and eccentric. Some of the songs, I felt, showed a level of musical sophistication that may have been lost on the audience of 3-year olds, who wanted songs to dance to and clap along with. When Boy and Sally led the audience in the simple and bright ‘Cleaning Up’ song, the children were squealing and dancing in the aisles.
Any criticisms I might have are, however, just nit-picking minor details on a beautiful, respectful and thoughtfully put together production. The majority of the parents I spoke to were grateful merely for the opportunity to take their very young children to a proper, professional theatre event without having to worry about being “shushed”. This production is professional, fun and shiny with enough to keep any child riveted throughout. If you are looking for something different, interesting and sophisticated for your young children to enjoy, then you will find it hard to do any better than this production of The Cat in the Hat.
- Children Theatre
- Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
- Adapted and originally directed by Katie Mitchell
- Music by Tasha Taylor Johnson
- Director: Suba Das
- Produced by Curve & Rose Theatre, Kingston in association with the National Centre for Circus Arts.
- Cast: Nana Amoo-Gottfried , Sam Angell, Melissa Lowe, Charley Magalit, Celia Francis and Robert Penny.
- Venue: Oxford Playhouse
- Until 23 February 2019 and then on tour until 21 April 2019
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