Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and Other Tales

Mon 24th – Sat 29th August 2015

reviews

Louis Shankar

at 10:03 on 25th Aug 2015

0agrees

0disagrees

This show does exactly what is says on the flyer: Beatrix Potter’s most famous stories performed together in an immersive, interactive way. It goes far beyond the tales of Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten, though, providing many jokes aimed squarely at the parents and overall creative a wonderful, nostalgic and altogether adorable show.

What’s perhaps most clever about the script (by Callum Berridge) is the way the audience is first introduced to the cast of characters who then go on to tell their own stories while also playing the supporting cast in the others’: Tom Kitten is the star of his show but also plays Flopsy (or possibly Mopsy) for Peter Rabbit and a fellow squirrel for Nutkin’s tale, and so on. This got increasingly creative, often breaking the fourth wall and becoming overtly self-referential, which had me laughing but this went miles over the heads of the toddlers in the room.

The entire cast was wonderful, creating diverse woodland creatures with simple costumes and exaggerated yet nuanced performances. My particular favourite was Michael Dodds’ Mr Tod, a seemingly aristocratic fox who sarcastically joked about myxomatosis and had the wonderful line, “No referendum jokes!” (something I never expected in a show about animals aimed at children). He also joked about the morbidity of some of Potter’s stories, which most of the children seemed thankfully unaware of.

A creative set was beautifully managed by the stage hands (who deserve a lot of kudos): rural scenes painted on sheets fluidly changed between an old house to a farm to a meadow or a burrow. We were lead through much of this, across the stage and into varying locations, which at times felt laborious given the age of some of the children but was also fun and different.

An unexplained ending left us with a slightly strange feeling; I wanted more but only because I felt I had missed out on something. And the overall production wasn’t without flaws: it was clearly the first performance, with many missed cues, technical mishaps and fumbled lines; I’m certain these will soon be ironed out though. Some of the participation from the audience felt stilted and forced: a conga line to Squirrel Island was fun but an egg and spoon race took a lot of time with little reward.

Overall, this is a very sweet show. It’s far from perfect, but a lot of this was either too dependent on the audience or will improve quickly with time. If you have young children who will know these stories (or if you loved them yourself), this is wonderful way to spend an hour.

agree
disagree

Llewelyn Hopwood

at 10:54 on 25th Aug 2015

0agrees

0disagrees

Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Other Tales is a colourful and magical hour of storytelling in which Potter’s timeless characters are brought to life in a way that ticks almost every box. With whispering music, fairy-tale stagehands and an open plan stage divided into sections by green and brown landscapes, entering this performance, as its description notes, truly is like walking into a wondrous forest.

From a practical standpoint, this atmosphere is achieved in part by the ingenious set. The production manages to turn a large room into a mosaic of different woodland scenes through constantly shifting green and brown landscapes depicted on hanging sheets, as we are encouraged to quite literally follow the story into every corner of the theatre.

This magic is reinforced by the impressive performances from all actors who manage to bring the characters into the human realm with the aid of impressively subtle make-up and costumes, in particular Charlotte Davey’s loveable waddle in a white shoal and flat, yellow shoes as Jemima Puddle-Duck. Anna West’s depiction of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle is outstanding, and demonstrates an inspiring grasp of the correct conduct necessary in a magical children’s play, as she opens the show singing a welcoming tune and with a pleasant ‘hello’ to all children (young and old) who have entered the forest.

The main concern about this production is that it gets unclear at times, especially to an audience of infants. This boils down to the concept behind it all, which is that the characters themselves are their own narrators. This creates a wonderful bond between the characters and the audience, and allows the delightful ending of an audio cameo by Beatrixe Potter herself. However, the worry is that this also leads to complicating meta-theatrical elements, such as the unnecessary confusion of having to remember who is acting which new minor character in the seven stories, or handling such baffling comments as “it’s not part of the story” when characters try and interfere.

Similarly, while the cast did handle audience participation well, they would benefit from having a more water-tight plan of action, for at times the atmosphere turns chaotic as the interruptions, stammers and nervous eyes seem to whisper an uneasy ‘we don’t know what we’re doing’. This is to say that perhaps the egg and spoon race or the conga line around the room in Squirrel Nutkin’s story may need to be reconsidered.

Though these are well-intentioned efforts to produce a children’s show that works on many levels, a large amount of these details get lost on all members of the audience. Nevertheless, for a pleasant family afternoon in the Fringe, this performance should undoubtedly be one of your options.

agree
disagree

Audience Avg.

0 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a