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Fantastic Mr Fox - Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Louise Winter on 8th Mar 2017 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

Reviewed by Louise Winter

Fantastic Mr Fox

image credit Manuel Harlan 

This is an ‘interesting’ adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story of animals vs humans and of sharing vs greed. While Dahl’s plot is followed, enabling the younger members of the audience to stay with the action at all times, the script and some of the scenes have been radically adapted.   

Starting sweetly enough with four bluebirds, two of them rather portly, dressed in rather tiny, shiny sports shorts there is an immediate sense of the bizarre which continues throughout the evening. Singing a bright jolly welcome song one of these innocent birds is shot by an oversized rifle from the side of the stage. Suddenly we are introduced to the deliciously vile farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Their introduction pulls no punches with gruesome language and lots of poultry guts on stage. The kids loved the gore and visual language. Whilst this is a kids production through and through there are hilarious moments of absolute adult humour which (thank goodness) definitely went over the heads of the younger members of the audience. Although, not in the original, stage adaptor Sam Holcroft has clearly considered that those of us accompanying the younger members of the audience need some reward!

 

Fantastic Mr Fox

image credit Manuel Harlan

Taking a nine year old nephew definitely enabled me to look at this production from the target audience’s perspective. I wasn’t keen on the costumes for the fox family but my nephew thought they were contemporary, creative and loved the ears. I thought that perhaps there was slightly too much of the story set to music and this might detract from the action but my nephew thought the balance was just right. Just goes to show. I’m definitely not sure about the introduction of Mrs Fox singing about Mr Fox’s misogynistic behaviour. I’m not sure it adds to the story in any way.  

Fantastic Mr Fox

image credit Manuel Harlan 

 

The cast are all fabulous, Greg Barnett as Mr Fox is energetic, dynamic, suitably conceited but charming. Lillie Flynn as Mrs Fox matches Barnett in the energy stakes and has the strongest and most beautiful voice. Richard Atwill, Raphael Bushay and Gruffudd Glynn as Bean, Boggis and Bunce are fabulously disgusting and very funny in their single-minded determination to flush out and kill Mr Fox. They have a great on-stage group presence. Atwill also plays Rat as a disgraceful drunk, Bushay is the rather gorgeous Badger, and Glyn is the naïve Mole. Mouse is played by Kelly Jackson in a truly sweet and delightful way. Stealing the show is Sandy Foster as Rabbit. Born to entertain, the audience giggled as soon as she came on stage and guffawed at some of her animations and lines. She brought a sense of the surreal and ridiculous into every scene and was definitely the audience’s favourite.

Fantastic Mr Fox

image credit Manuel Harlan

Credit has to go to Patrick Burbridge, Anna Fordham and Richie Hart, tas the bluebird actor-musicians who accompany the entire show with top quality live music played from high up on stage. Having the band present throughout really elevates this show.

While not a completely faithful retelling of Dahl’s story, the production is excellent, Marina Aberg’s direction is dynamic and creative, staging is visually exciting and the writing is sharp and hilarious in places. The bottom line is that while the adults in the audience were suitably entertained, the children thought it was  a great show and that is the proof of the pudding. 

Fantastic Mr Fox is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 11th March and then on tour

Box Office:                   0844 871 7652 (bkg fee)*  

Groups Hotline:         01908 547609  

Access Booking:       0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)*  

Online Booking:        www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes  (bkg fee)

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