Based on the original book by Dr. Seuss
Adaptation: Katie Mitchell
Director: Suba Das
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
Boredom is rife in families today, stretching out activities in an effort to play. When the games have run dry and rain continues to pour, what on earth could the Cat in the Hat have in store? Adapted from the timeless Dr Seuss work of the same name, Cat in the Hat sees the arrival of disorder into two kids’ mundane day.
Panto season may be over, but we haven’t escaped the chaos theatre can reap. From the get-go, the show gets up close and personal with the audience. As Sam Angell’s Boy clambers across the stalls hurling water at his more grounded, defiant sister Sally as she whirls the children into getting involved.
Aloof, far too cool for any room, almost too much so, is Nana Amoo-Gottfried as the titular Cat. His prowess, second only to his feline counter-part is demonstrated through tricks. As he balances the fish, books and even the cake too. All atop a circus ball.
Equally as talented, more so in the vocal sense, is Charley Magalitis as the prima donna fish. Trapped inside her size-shifting bowl, she brings grandeur to the production. Her take on the character though leaves a little to be desired, as her line deliveries can be quite muffled.
One of the marvels of Dr Seuss’ original piece is that we never know what to expect. Whilst usually a tremendous thing, this can lead to backstage gremlins we didn’t anticipate. A particularly troublesome door paired with disembodied denim-clad legs tears the whimsy of Seuss right out from underneath us.
In spite of this, the rather sparse set is ideal for Cat in the Hat. At first, its monochromatic setup harks back to the original Seuss illustrations. Isla Shaw’s design pays off the moment bursts of colour introduce themselves across the black and white line drawings. As the set unfolds, twists and bursts into life – this is what had been the intention all along, a literal leaping from the page.
Standing out from the overly white backgrounds are Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Celia Francis and Robert Penny) performing outstanding circus tricks. As the set falls apart, they pair bounce and launch their way into small gaps and picture frames. They work to accentuate the fantastical value of the piece.
Above his imagination and eccentric creations Dr Seuss’s stories were known for their wordplay. Something which has been tarnished by rather forgettable, bland lyrics.
For children, Mitchell’s production brings lunacy and colour into the world. It has its shaky moments, which could be brought together more effectively with a more linear narrative as opposed to the meta-reading of the text. Nevertheless, it delivers a version of Seuss’ work to a new generation.
Runs until 9 February 2019 | Image: Contributed