Roald Dahl is one of the most celebrated children authors that has ever lived after inspiring countless generations of readers of all ages.
Fantastic Mr Fox is one of his most celebrated books in his collection and a team up of Nuffield Southampton, Curve and Lyric Hammersmith bring it to the stage. This is the first musical adaptation of the book, but it did originally have a stage adaptation which opened at Belgrade Theatre in 2001. Since then only a movie has been released about the book and with theatre heavyweights backing this musical I had extremely high hopes for this.
Heading the cast for this tour is Greg Barnett playing Mr Fox, a skillful fox who goes on dangerous missions to the farms of Bean (Richard Atwill), Boggis (Raphael Bushay) and Bunce (Gruffudd Glyn) to feed his family and friends. Pregnant Mrs Fox (Lillie Flynn) and Daughter Kit (Jade Croot) support Mr Fox with his adventures, but are restraint on adventures with him. Their friends are a unique bunch consisting of Rabbit (Sandy Foster), Mouse (Kelly Jackson), Badger (Bushay) and Mole (Glyn). As the farmers all dig down to kill the Fox family after they steal food and cause mischief.
The birds (who are the musicians too) opened up both acts with cute acapellas as the introductions. Mr Fox is enjoyable to watch with his bravery and stubborn behaviour mixing together to make this irresistible charm. The Fox family are adorable to watch too. The feud between the farmers and Mr Fox is very exciting and often hilarious as plans on both sides of the fight go through entertaining troubles. There’s so much effort and talent in the performances I felt energetic throughout every scene. Rabbit was tremendous to provide the comic relief along with Farmer Boggis.
The set was built of different layers of stage quite like a gigantic cake. The changing of the set was very subtle and quick which matched the fast pace of this play. The music was also absolutely brilliant, a sensational job done by Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who’s Rory) with funny lyrics and pinches of different music genres. The uses of the cider bottles to scare away the guard dog in Act II was a thrilling spectacle. To be honest my favourite prop was the gigantic Babybel… it’s remarkable. The journey of self discovery Mr Fox goes through kept everyone on their feet.
I haven’t seen many children’s theatre shows, but I highly doubt any of them will match Fantastic Mr Fox. The sheer quality that comes from this production is second to none. My only issue is that this play should have been longer without the abrupt ending. The acting, music, songs… I can’t believe the effort put into this incredible show. Roald Dahl’s legacy is enhanced by this and there needs to be more productions like this. It’s undeniable that Fantastic Mr Fox is in a league of it’s own and I urge every family to make time to see this show.
Fantastic Mr Fox will be at The Lowry up until Sunday so make sure you grab your tickets here.