We think Dr Seuss would be suitably delighted with Suba Das’ take on the Made at Curve production of The Cat in the Hat… but would YOU?
The Dr Seuss fan club is a serious one with kids and grownups alike able to recite higgledy-piggledy quotes word for word, and an imagination inspired by the author’s fantastical books making this fan base rather particular about how his stories are brought to life. When my nine-year-old niece turned to me with an expression that was a cross between joy and astonishment to tell me ‘this is just like the book!’ and hearing her reel off the odd lyrical line along with the characters, it was clear this live performance lived up to her expectations.
Melissa Lowe plays Sally, sister to – the famously unnamed – Boy (Sam Angell). Running in from behind the audience, their first song is endearingly whiny about how the sun won’t shine. The more serious-ish sibling is disgruntled when her brother squirts her with a water pistol. The two create a raucous bringing their squabble into the audience spraying it all around the room – you’d think they were trying to make sure every single seat was targeted! The charming pair are fascinating to watch as they energetically tumble and weave around the set.
Nana Amoo-Gottfried (A Winter’s Tale, Theatre for Younger Audiences at The National Theatre) plays Cat! His purrrfect performance balancing on that giant ball is tense and mind-boggling. The actor plays Cat with 100% panache and style. His facial expressions alone mesmerise the children in the audience who are deciding whether or not Sally and her brother should entertain this mysterious feline. His performance of Cat is positively applause-worthy.
Drinking cocktails and practicing meditation to calm her nerves, Fish relates to most adults in the room. The operatic, golden-scaled drama queen is a stick in the mud who continually frets about mother’s return. Charley Magalit’s character is a welcome break from the stresses of watching the demise of the living room. Her hypnotic voice, costume, and entrances demand all the attention in the room.
Suba Das is an associate director of Curve and, Co-produced with Rose Theatre Kingston and National Centre for Circus Arts, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are true acrobatic spectacles. The Things are adorably annoying to the neat and tidy among the audience, and elaborately entertaining to all.
The flow of chaotic play and scuffling works very well in the relaxed, intimate environment of Curve’s Studio B. The space allows for more unique, interactive productions. This set design is only made possible by the theatre’s unique arrangements. Huge cut-outs of inanimate objects float above the scene when madness erupts with the arrival much-awaited Cat. Although simple in appearance, the set is full of surprises. You may be distracted by Thing 2 climbing up what you thought was a flat surface, to then notice Fish suddenly pop up out of the set’s ceiling. Impeccably well-timed lighting to match physical acting and acrobatics creates a magical atmosphere. And the frenzied music fashions an organised chaos to go with the visuals.
See The Cat in the Hat until January 12.