Two children and their pet fish, left alone by their mother, expect nothing but boredom on a rainy day. Instead, they are greeted by a mysterious guest, who turns their afternoon upside down. Lillie Collier’s adaptation of Dr Seuss’s well-loved children’s book has received much critical acclaim on its 2015 tour so far - today there were plenty of audience members already wearing the eponymous striped hat and ready for adventure, as
So much of the fun behind The Cat In The Hat lies in the joy of making a mess and having fun, and the choreographed chaos that takes place throughout does exactly that.
The stage decoration makes an immediate and unmissable impact: if it were possible to erect drawings as life-size set pieces, they would look like this. Red and white candy-striped columns flank the space, whilst wonky but wonderful walls and larger-than-life props help to make the Seussical world a reality, with not a straight line to be seen. As the quaint house spins apart onstage to reveal the similarly styled interior, the cast spring into action with kicks and flicks galore - every run propels their knees into the air, and every reaction is accompanied by a squeal of surprise. As an ensemble the group are exemplary in their energy and timing, using mime and sound effects to harness their audience’s imagination from tennis matches to play-fights. The level of silliness and exaggeration put me in mind of pantomime, and perhaps this was why I began to miss the audience interaction that accompanies the genre. Just as I began to wonder this, the heavens opened and bubbles rained down from the sky, with gigantic inflatable balls being thrown into the audience from all sides to spread the bedlam onstage right into the heart of the audience. So much of the fun behind The Cat In The Hat lies in the joy of making a mess and having fun, and the choreographed chaos that takes place throughout does exactly that. Using simple prop tricks our Cat is able to balance an impossible number of items in one fabulous sequence delivered as if straight from the book, and the fish puppet steals the show by constantly jumping from one vessel of liquid to the next.
I simply cannot fault this show for providing a fantastic time for families and any lovers of the rhyming world created in Seuss’s books. From the word go, you know this is certainly going to be no ordinary rainy day.