Theatre Review: The Cat in the Hat

For young children there is no better introduction to live performance than exuberant, physical theatre.  Add a much-loved story and young audiences (and their parents!) are captivated.  So it is with this exciting new tour of Dr Seuss's anarchic, beloved crazy kitty tale.

The Cat in the Hat needs no introduction and this exciting new take on the classic children's book more than does justice to the original.

We meet Sally and her brother on their bored, rainy day (prepare to get wet as the super soakers come out.)  Their story is filled in, their personalities filled out, and we are drawn into their world.  Sibling rivalry and family fun abound.

Tasha Taylor Johnson's songs add a note of whimsy and depth to the story, enabling Sally and her nameless brother to express themselves more and to come to the fore of the story.  They also add an element of audience participation which the young theatregoers embraced wholeheartedly.

And you won't want to miss the wonderful fish, appearing in her bowl with a host of bubbles marking her entrance.  Fish is, of course, the sensible one, the voice of reason, although "a bit mithery" according to Lara!

Then there is a knock at the door.

"Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It's fun to have fun but you have to know how!" demands the eponymous cat.  And look you must as Nana Amoo-Gottfried bursts on stage and into cat mode, delivering a feline circus skills performance the like of which you will have not seen before.

His performance is bright and brilliant, turning the black and white set to colour and the lives, and home, of the children upside down.  The circus acrobatics begin, and the world turns on its head, almost literally as Isla Shaw's deceptively simple sets upend perspective.

But this is a mere precursor for the anarchic madness that leaps from the story when Thing 1 and Thing 2 are let loose in the second half.

See the riotous fun for yourself:

Acrobats Celia Francis and Robert Penney are a joy to behold, resplendent in blue hair and make up, climbing the walls and catapulting themselves and each other through the air.  Madcap, joyous and awe-inspiring, there were audible gasps from the audience as the set became their Swedish ladder in a gym of their own making.

The familiar rhymes are a riot, the energy is incredible, the performances are first class.

Our girls, aged 9, 7 and 5 all thought it was hilarious and were, quite literally, on the edge of their seats during the acrobatic episodes.

Purrfect fun for under 10s - and their grown ups.

The Cat in the Hat is showing daily at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton until Sunday 24th March, with performances at 10.30am, 1pm, 2pm and 6.30pm, dependent on day of the week.  Tickets are priced at £10-27.

CLICK HERE to check dates and times and to book tickets.

The tour continues to Northern Stage, Newcastle 27-31 March, then ends at Rose Theatre Kingston for the Easter holidays, 10-21 April.

Want more UK theatre?

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Tour

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