Pleasance Theatre 6 December – 2 January, Reviewed by Claire Roderick
The Cat in the Hat is a perfect Christmas treat for younger children. Dr Seuss’ best known book is brought to anarchic life in this revival of the National Theatre production full of wit and wonder.
On a rainy afternoon, Sally and her brother are left alone in their house by their mother (a fact that shows the age of the book and obviously bothered one young audience member “She’s a naughty mummy!”) Boredom rules, until a mysterious cat in a hat turns up, with Thing 1 and Thing 2, to wreak havoc.
The set and props are all true to the original book’s illustrations – all pencil lines and primary colours (which caused a few problems in the early show for a few bleary-eyed adults who’d been enjoying themselves the night before) and instantly recognisable for the children. The rhyming text of the book is used religiously, along with lots of Tweeniesque oohs and awwws to create a truly childlike and innocent show. Large chunks rely solely on sound effects and music, with some great slo-mo sections amid the cat’s chaos. The cast are in nonstop movement, with great physical comedy and silly tricks. The introduction of Thing 1 and Thing 2 worked well, with only the older children spotting the stage trickery. The adults portraying the two children use childish voices, but don’t go overboard in channelling their inner child. The fish puppet is inspired, with fantastic use of the bowl and the teapot. There are lots of moments that had the young audience cheering and laughing, and the section with bubbles and balloons moved them from gasps of wonder to mass hysteria. The biggest laugh from the grownups came when we saw the Cat’s pimped up mobility scooter.
This production is a fantastic introduction to theatre for children, and will surely have them begging for more. At only 45 minutes, even the most Dr Seuss hating parents can sit through this – it’ll be worth it just to see the joy on the children’s faces.