Review by Simone Green
Paul Taylor Mills presents The Cat in the Hat
Reviewed at artsdepot
At artsdepot 13th – 17th February 2016; national tour
For ages 3+
It was a rainy, grey old afternoon in North Finchley when I took my six year old daughter for what hoped to be a mad-cap adventure with The Cat in the Hat. We’ve seen many shows at the artsdepot and we love it there: it’s bright, modern and there’s always something we’re dying to see. This vibrant, cartoonish production was very true to the original book in both set deign and narrative, although it was edited from the original text. It was just what we needed for our escape.
Sally and her brother sit expectantly at the window. They are utterly bored on an afternoon empty of inspiration when a cheeky feline visitor arrives for a very curious play date. Once the first paw steps through their door, the wacky mayhem never ceases. This Cat’s a clown, a conjuror and a comedian, and all the children around us were enthralled by his tricks and capers. Though there’s little light and shade, and not many moments of tension and suspense, this was no problem at all for the 3 – 5 year olds around us – not an uninterested fidgeter in sight! I felt like we’d opened our book at home and dived straight in. The excellent use of slow motion miming at the point of the most utterly chaotic moments was awesome, witty, and frankly you just wanted to join in!
The cast were a very strong team but when the Things were unleashed to hoick the pandemonium up a few notches further, they stole the show for me and for my daughter too. Her highlight was when the Things left the stage and frolicked in the aisles with blown up beach balls, which were volleyed across the audience. There’s some fantastic, intricate manipulation of a fishy puppet in a goldfish bowl which attempts to prick the conscience of the children “No! No! Make that cat go away! Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play”. But there was just no stopping this freight train of merriment.
When this hair raising riot of a play date starts to pack up for the day – as Mother’s on her way home – the two naughty toddler’s are sent back from whence they came and the tidy up begins. There is panic as they think they are done and the visitors are gone when a stray ball of evidence rolls across the stage. Then suddenly…is that Mother at the door?
So we found ourselves quite windswept, back on the high street in north London. Like the siblings, we feel like we’ve been in a whirlwind. What adventure will be next for us? ‘Oh The Places You Will Go……’
Simone is a trained actress and has worked in the theatre and television. She has also run drama workshops for children. She now teaches in a primary school in East London and regularly enjoys trips to the theatre with her six year old daughter.