Children and adults alike will be familiar with Roald Dahl’s timeless story of Fantastic Mr Fox. With this inventive and unique production, Scratchworks Theatre bring to the Fringe a new take on the classic tale that will please all audiences, no matter what age.
After starting out with a scrolling ‘on-screen’ narrative introducing the audience to Mr Fox, his family and the other inhabitants of the tunnels, as soon as the upbeat 1930s jazz score kicks in, the energetic silent-film style performance gets underway. The story follows the Fox family trying to escape the ever present threat of the hunters, trying to get by on stolen chickens and pilfered cider while living underground - when the hunters get word of where they are hiding, they have to keep digging.
Using a charming mixture of dance, mime and physical comedy, these silent inhabitants create a joyous montage of a different life. Mr Fox is played with sprightly energy throughout by Alex Appleby, with every mime executed precisely and expertly. While being exaggerated, the mime is not over the top - a difficult balance to strike and one which is hit spot on. The rest of the Fox Family give equally as enthralling performances, with Mrs Fox’s delightful devotion to her husband giving the performance a wonderfully sincere tone - Ellise Kennah’s touching performance shining throughout.
A great joy, which flows throughout the show, is the childlike whimsy and excitement of the chase by the hunters and the need to find food in new and exciting places, with some brilliant swing dance numbers thrown in for good measure, some shadow puppetry and imaginative use of the minimal props onstage as all the nooks and crannies of the underground tunnel network. These special moments appear throughout and the rapid switch between action and quieter moments keep the show moving at a pleasing pace. A great show for all ages, this magical production will capture the imagination and attention of many, many theatre-goers.