REVIEW: Cat in the Hat (Turbine Theatre) ★★★

The Turbine Theatre is a new joint venture between Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills. Set in that once inspired and now rather orthodox setting of a railway arch, this bijou venue is a welcome addition to the South London theatre scene.

Currently playing is a family offering, originally produced by the National Theatre: The Cat In The Hat – a theatrical adaptation of the famous Dr Seuss book, much beloved by children and parents alike. With nothing planned for my 3 and 4 year old on a cold December afternoon, it seemed like the perfect way to while away an hour or so.

With Sally and Boy bored and home alone on a “cold, cold, wet day” they have nothing to do but amuse themselves at home, a task which becomes infinitely easier with the arrival of the somewhat maniacal Cat In The Hat who has lots of good ideas for “fun that is funny”.

The play follows the plot of the original faithfully, with a faithful design by David Shields to match and added elements of falling bubbles and inflatable beach balls which lent an element of interactivity to the show – much appreciated by the little ones (and their perpetually weary parents).

Jonathan Ray, in the central role of Cat, does a good job; he’s wild and zany but with a charm and decorum that allows him to get away with all of his nonsense. He interacts well with the children in the audience and even throws in a couple of references for the grown-ups to keep us awake.

Grace Miller and Nick Brittain do a good job as Sally and ‘Boy’ respectively, though Boy seems rather an underwritten part in this production with Sally getting the majority of the action and the enviable job of also playing the grumpy Fish who is most displeased by the cat’s antics. Miller does well as balancing these two roles at the same time.

Of course, Cat is never without his two compadres: Thing 1 and Thing 2, played when we visited by Vinesh Veerasami and Nick Brittain, who abandons his role of Boy to become Thing 2. These ministers of mayhem are exactly as zany and cartoonish as the book would suggest, unleashing the aforementioned balls and bubbles, running in and out of the audience, and generally bringing squeals of delight from the assembled children.

The Cat In The Hat is an entertaining enough way to spend an hour. It’s pretty uninspiring but holds the attention of the average 3+ year old and captures the essence of the Dr Seuss book well. However, if you’re a grownup looking to be equally entertained by a family spectacle, look elsewhere.

Reviewed by Jody Tranter
Photo: Garry Lake


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