If children ruled the world, we would have a more just society. Take one look at the audience of Mr Tiger Goes Wild: one minute they were in cahoots with the wayward Mr Tiger, promising not to tell Mr Deer that he’d eaten all the cake, and yet, all loyalty went out the window as they struggled to deal with the injustice of it all. The minute Mr Deer was back, the audience told him exactly what had happened, sparing no details: Mr Tiger had eaten all the chocolate and cream cake, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. In fact, one girl pronounced “You’re very naughty, Mr Tiger”, handing down the child equivalent of a life sentence. It’s safe to say Mr Tiger Goes Wild has its young audience involved and invested in the action from the very beginning.
Mr Deer loves rules, sitting up straight, and cucumber sandwiches. Mr Tiger loves spontaneity, studded belts, and rock music. Though he tries to be more strait-laced, a tiger never loses its stripes, and soon Mr Tiger is engaging in thrilling mischievousness, throwing all his food on the floor and even stripping out of his coat and tails to reveal his true tiger body (“Avert your eyes everyone!” implores the put-upon Mr Deer.) Finding it impossible to go on living in Victorian solemnity with Mr Deer, Mr Tiger dons a fringed leather waistcoat and platform shoes and moves to the wilderness. Here he can rock out and have fun all he wants – the wilderness comes complete with an electric guitar – and the show turns into a gig. But he very quickly learns that the “wild life means nothing if you haven’t got a friend” (“You shouldn’t have been rude to him then!” cried another child judge). Mr Tiger even goes so far as to create a fake Mr Deer out of things gathered in the jungle, like coconuts, sticks… and a balloon. It’s all very reminiscent of Wilson the volleyball from Castaway.
There are three lessons to this tale. Number one is that we were all born to be wild, and should therefore just be ourselves. Number two is that, eventually, the rhythm is going to get you – in the end, even Mr Deer can’t help busting a move. And the third is that young audiences are more likely to dance with an extra bounce in their step once balance is restored and all characters are acting with honesty and integrity.
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