Reviewed by Alex Foott
The Arts Theatre
Running until 5th January 2014
The beloved tales of Dr. Seuss are given new life this December in Sell A Door’s latest work. A dazzling eruption of vivid colour, catchy music and innovative storytelling, Seussical brilliantly bewitches an audience of all ages. With a young cast of captivating performers, we are permitted a brief respite from the icy grip of British winter and are invited to plunge headlong into the heady Jungle of Nool. Using Dr. Seuss’ iconic nonsensical vernacular, this show is both whimsical and poignant in equal measure and cleverly uses a world of fantasy to present some hard-hitting social concerns that are otherwise difficult for children to appreciate.
Seussical expertly assembles a selection of Dr. Seuss’ more memorable stories and weaves them into a tapestry of modern day fables that cleverly promote diversity, childhood imagination and friendship. We begin with Horton, an elephant who one day hears a tiny voice crying for help. Following the noise through the jungle to a speck of dust, he discovers a microscopic planet called Whoville. On this planet lives a young boy names Jojo, whose father is the Mayor of Whoville. As Jojo is reprimanded for his outlandish ideas, Horton strives to protect Whoville from the other creatures lurking in the jungle. The Sour Kangaroo rallies the animals against Horton and they confiscate the speck of dust, doubting the existence of its inhabitants. However, Horton’s loyalty to Jojo proves unbreakable and he embarks on a journey to recover the dust speck.
The show is carried effortlessly by frontman Elliot Fitzpatrick who, as The Cat in the Hat, serves as the story’s narrator. His easy rapport with the audience keeps both children and adults amused as he tumbles about the stage with affable silliness. Jordan Veloso is utterly believable as Jojo, with his delightfully gawky gestures clearly portraying Dr. Seuss’ celebration of childish mentality. The gamine girl next door Gertrude McFuzz, comes in the form of Kirsty Marie Ayers. Her beautiful soprano and timid physicality pull on our heartstrings as she follows Horton in his adventure. Ayers causes more than a few sniffles around the auditorium as the show comes to a heartwarming finale, demonstrating Gertrude’s devotion to Horton with wonderful clarity. Jessica Parker and Shekinah McFarlane, as Mayzie La Bird and The Sour Kangaroo respectively, provide an abundance of humour as they sashay and gyrate through the story with hilarious comic timing and supreme vocal ability.
The star of the show comes in the form of Racky Plews’ choreography. The clockwork movements are executed with astonishing finesse and keep the piece ticking over with thrilling energy. Sell A Door’s adapted production transforms this piece of children’s theatre into a spectacle that is equally accessible for adults; a feat that should not be overlooked. Providing a wonderful alternative to more festive family shows, Seussical exquisitely poses some moral and ethical questions with a cast of extraordinary talent. You’d be the Biggest Blame Fool to miss it.
Sell A Door Theatre Company
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Directed by Kirk Jameson
Choreographed by Racky Plews
Performance date – Monday 2nd December 2013