The Cat In the Hat, based on the much loved book by Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), is brought to life for children at The King’s Theatre Edinburgh this week (Wednesday 06 to Saturday 09 February) by an imaginative combination from “A Curve & Rose Theatre Kingston” and “The National Centre For Circus Arts”.
It is rare for me to be reviewing a children’s show, but I was curious to see how well this classic story was going to be adapted for the stage, and I had forgotten how noisy (nothing wrong with that) a theatre full of young children could be, to be honest. That in itself though was going to be the test of this production. Could the story and the presenters hold their attention for the length of the show? At roughly 90 minutes (including an interval) this is not a long show for many people, but if you are a young child, 90 minutes can seem like forever.
The Cat in the Hat is a book that since its original publication in 1957 has sold millions of copies and been read to millions of children by their parents over the years, but the big question was still to me, how this was going to come to life on stage in a way that a young audience could easily relate to. The initial answer to that question is the stage set design itself, not only well designed to look like it is from an illustrated book, but with a few technical surprises in there to use as our story develops.
The Cat in the Hat is not a long story, so there is a little bit of padding around it in classic “children’s theatre” style and Sam Angell and Melissa Lowe who play our left home alone children Boy and Sally do a good job here of immediately connecting with their audience through some “audience participation” songs and dances. It does take a little while for our star Cat to appear in the first half of the show, but when he does, the connection to the children is immediate, and Nana Amoo-Gottfried is a splendidly cool, sophisticated and magical cat. Cat does at times get slightly upstaged though by a fish (Charley Magalit). Fish gets some wonderful lines here and a few little improvised moments for the adults in the audience too; try not to miss a cocktail making, drinking fish in a teapot at one moment in our story. Anarchic mayhem is provided by the arrival of Thing 1 (Celia Francis) and Thing 2 (Robert Penny).
This is a children’s show and it is doing its job of holding its target audience spellbound for two acts. Children can be the harshest critics you will find anywhere and this show is obviously meeting their approval every step of The Cat in the Hat paw step of the way.
Review by Tom King