The Cat in the Hat, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh *****
The reputation of Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat is legion in our household, and I’m happy to report that this energetic and good-natured theatre version does the stone cold classic justice.
From the moment the King’s curtain went up we knew we were in for a treat.
The assembled audience was in for a bit of participation right from the off, as the boy (Sam Angell) and girl (Melissa Lowe) characters chased each other around the stalls with their Super Soakers, friendly firing at the punters.
Director Suba Das’s opening was a big departure from the Cat in the Hat tale, but these early sequences felt justified as a means to get to know the two child characters a little bit and observe their playful chemistry.
It was a good 15 minutes before recognisable elements of - what is probably - Dr Seuss’s best-known book came to the fore and soon we were introduced to our third character in a haze of bubbles. The fearful fish was played in memorable and fabulous fashion throughout by actor and opera singer Charley Magalit.
It was pleasing to hear lines from the book read out verbatim and the delivery from all concerned was top notch, but particularly in the case of the cat.
It was the brilliant Nana Amoo-Gottfried who eventually entered the stage as the infamous Cat in the Hat and what an entrance it was. Cool, fashion-conscious and larger than life, Nana appeared to be channelling Danny John Jules’ own feline character from Red Dwarf. Whatever the case, it worked a treat.
Off-original script musical numbers were numerous and well-thought out, with jazzy licks complementing the character of the cat perfectly.
Anyone familiar with the book will have been waiting patiently to see how the production fared during the precarious scene where the Cat in the Hat balances on a ball while holding multiple objects. Mr Amoo-Gottfried showed a great deal of poise and stamina in getting it right.
Completing the company as the Cat’s energetic companions Thing 1 & Thing 2 were acrobats Celia Francis and Robert Penny. This is the point in the proceedings which truly impressed the crowd and put lasting smiles on faces.
The two ‘Things’ did a marvellous job exhibiting the boundless energy and bare-faced cheek we see from the original book and the acrobatics were extraordinary at times with the pair leaping from great heights and performing all manner of twists and tricks. It felt like a night at the circus.
Special mention must go to the stage and costume designer (Isla Shaw) who concocted a set taken straight out the illustrations. It did at times feel as if the pages had come to life, which is exactly what you want from this type of production.
A must see for anyone who values a little lunacy in their life.