Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox adapted by Sam Holcroft
A Curve, Nuffield Southampton, Lyric Hammersmith co-production
Music and lyrics by Arthur Darvill, Darren Clark, Sam Holcroft & Al Muriel
Curve 3 - 9 April 2017
Review by: Paul Towers, 24/8/2015
'Dahl's dubious taste is to the fore.'Continuing with Curve's outstanding previous success with The Witches and The Twits this is the latest of Dahl?s books to reach our stage
As with all Roald Dahl children?s books Fantastic Mr Fox is liberally laced with enough gore, gunge and bad taste to keep any schoolboy delighted for its entirety.
Mr Fox is the Leslie Philips of the fox world, the saviour of the forest's animal kingdom. Well, at least that is what he thinks. In truth he has to confront the realisation that he can't save the world single-handed and has to co-operate with his wildlife chums, badger, rabbit, mouse and mole, along with his daughter and pregnant wife.
Up against this feral band of companions are the greedy, unprincipled farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, hell bent on clearing the forest to prevent their chickens being stolen.
Dahl's dubious taste is to the fore from the very start with what looks like a cute Supremes style song which quickly descends into a literal description of the despatching of chickens for the table. The onstage band, discreetly tucked away in a top corner, provides not only the soundtrack but many of the various special effects.
Greg Barnett as the eponymous Fantastic Mr Fox is suave and sexy in a shell suit as he makes the ladies swoon and the men worship his cunning schemes. One expects his teeth to gleam every time he smiles. Lillie Flynn (very appropriate casting as her stage husband thinks he is Errol Flynn) is Mrs Fox, the power behind the ego. As the four musketeers, Badger (Raphael Bushay), Rabbit (Sandy Foster), Mole (Gruffudd Glyn) and Mouse (Kelly Jackson) Mr Fox has a true band of allies in his fight against the dastardly farmers.
The set is an epic masterpiece of versatility, a multi tiered cake-like edifice that turns on several levels with surprisingly complex scene changes. This allows for many very quick costume changes and some very knock-about slapstick chases.
This is pure Dahl with a surface story that any child over 5 will be able to follow while there are plenty of bits and pieces to keep adults amused. Watch out especially for a rather risqué routine about sex toys which will go straight over the heads of anyone under about 15 (I hope)
Paul Towers: http://ptheatre.blogspot.co.uk/
Fantastic Mr Fox continues at Curve until Sunday 9th April and then on tour
Tickets from Curve on www.curveonline.co.uk
Details of the tour are on www.fantasticmrfoxlive.com
Pictures by Manuel Harlan