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Review: Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, Greenwich Theatre

The Cat in the Hat Greenwich Theatre

The Cat in the Hat. Greenwich Theatre

Dr Seuss’s timeless classic, The Cat in the Hat, is open to several interpretations. Our bedtime rendition for Austin usually involves a fast and frantic tumble through Seuss’s glorious, simple words. The televised version turns it into a jolly, and comfortingly homely jape.

The team behind Greenwich Theatre’s Cat in the Hat, on the other hand, have come up with a performance that is mischievous and lugubrious in turn. At times it even borders on the Burtonesque.

When I read that the National Theatre of Great Britain’s original production had been adapted by Katie Mitchell, a devotee of modern dance legend Pina Bausch, I was anticipating lots of interpretative leaping and bounding.

Instead, under Paul Taylor-Mills and Lillie Collier’s direction, these actors played the few characters with taut panache. Ashley Bates was a Cat who oversaw proceedings with stately poise rather than madcap zinginess. There were moments, with his whitened face and tubby midriff, when he seemed more avuncular ghost than lithe, playful feline.

The Cat in the Hat. Photo Credit Garry LakePaul Cleveland’s Fish also helped set a melancholic undertone to the performance, when he took his mournful rubber-features out into the audience near the beginning of the show and showered all the little-‘uns with bubbles (much to their delight).

These two performances were a perfect foil to the merriment and whizz introduced when Thing One and Thing Two burst onto the scene. I tried (and failed) to resist the urge to think ‘Jimmie Krankie on speed’ while watching their little be-wigged heads bobbing around the stage; Jill Regan and Andrew Beckett played a couple of delightful, endearing creatures who had my son Austin in stitches.

As did the segments that were dramatically slowed down, and a sequence at the beginning where the Cat kept dropping his juggling balls. (This went on for a bit too long, I felt; but the children around me were falling about with laughter, so who am I to judge?)

The Cat in the Hat Greenwich TheatreThe set and costumes were simple; perfectly in keeping with the style of the book’s illustrations. At 40 minutes, the performance wasn’t too long for youngsters’ attention spans (although I did feel a little bereft when Thing One and Thing Two were bustled back into their box, and Cat sped off in his car).

A song or two wouldn’t have gone amiss, but the audience-cast interaction was perfect for this kind of story. The wry slapstick provided enough of a spectacle to keep the children focused on the stage and in their seats (except during bubble time, when Austin begged to be allowed to jump around).

When I asked him what he thought of The Cat in the Hat, his first response was ‘funny’.

Not outrageously so, in my opinion. But then, I’m not a four-year-old boy. And it’s good to have a little nod to the dark side every now and then.

Picture credit: Garry Lake

Disclosure: I was given two press tickets to see The Cat in the Hat. But all views expressed are my own.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best theatres for kids in London.

24 Comments

  • YouBabyMeMummy
    March 1, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Dr Seuss is awesome! 40 minutes does seem a good length, Baby might even manage that. Bubble time sounds right up her street. I’m glad he liked it x

    Reply
  • Charlotte
    March 1, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Wow those costumes are amazing, they look just like the books!

    Reply
  • mellissa williams
    March 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    my son used to like Dr Seuss. This looks fab for little ones!

    Reply
    • Bos
      April 2, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Wow, I think you will be a great OB. It seems like you have a real love for children, fmaeliis, and people in general. Sad to say that those qualities are rare traits in todays world. I believe not just anyone should be in just any job because you could be in a job that you hate and end up making everyone who comes in contact with you at work miserable. You have the joy and care to be great at your job and effect those you will be working around not only by your knowledge , but by your love for what you do.

      Reply
  • TwinsplusTwo
    March 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    That’s real dedication – the costumes are fabulous. Personally I think Dr Seuss needs music – but maybe we are brain washed to think so by “Seussical the Muscial”? I have to watch Tinkerbell with my daughter this weekend – looking forward to taking her out – the movie, not so much.

    Reply
  • Amanda
    March 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    We love, love, love Dr Seuss in our house! And yet, I’m never quite sure what to make of the Cat in the Hat… I don’t particularly like him as a character so it would be interesting to see how the characters are interpreted by others. Sounds like a fun day out – anything which keeps kids in their seat for 40 minutes is a win in my book 😉

    Reply
  • Katie Albury
    March 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Ah I used to love these books! The costumes are fantastic- I literally had to look twice to realise they weren’t cartoon sketches- how brilliantly done!

    Katie x
    http://www.missenchanting.co.uk/

    Reply
  • oana79
    March 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with him, at 4 things need to be kept simple for them. Funny is a good answer 🙂

    Reply
  • Emma (My Little 3 and Me)
    March 1, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    When my boys were younger we saw a few book based theatre pieces too. the costumes here look great and I think 40 minutes is just about right for little ones.

    Reply
  • Kirsty Hijacked By Twins
    March 1, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    For a 4 year old to say it was funny it must have been great for him! I agree at 4 it doesn’t need to be too in depth just enough to keep them engaged and amused. Sounds great!

    Reply
  • Kizzy
    March 2, 2014 at 8:44 am

    We love Dr Seuss and would have loved to see this! Sounds amazing

    Reply
  • Angela Spicer
    March 2, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I love Cat in The Hat

    Reply
  • Ninja cat
    March 2, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I love Cat in the Hat

    Reply
  • Mammasaurus
    March 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    This looks great – mine aren’t au fait with Dr Seuss yet, we did try a few months ago but they didn’t take to it. I’ll try again soon though! x

    Reply
  • jenny
    March 2, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    The costumes look fabulous.

    Reply
  • Bek
    March 2, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    We love Cat in the Hat! It looks like a great show that my children would enjoy.

    Reply
  • Hannah Staveley
    March 2, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Ohhh wow looks fab, I remember reading the book as a kid.x

    Reply
  • Emmys Mummy
    March 2, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    This looks great.
    I would love it, I’ve tried reading Dr suess to Emmy but she isn’t into it just yet but does like it on tv

    Reply
  • Mummy of Two
    March 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    My son loves the Dr Seuss books so I’m sure he would love this!

    Reply
  • Liska @NewMumOnline
    March 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Oh I didn’t even know this was still around. Super and the show sounds great even with your couple of observations. Perfect length for little ones xx

    Reply
  • Shell Louise
    March 3, 2014 at 8:03 am

    My girls would love this. I think I probably would as well!

    Reply
  • anna
    March 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    It sounds like a lot of fun for kids. With Dr Seuss’s birthday just passed, I realised that we are not so familiar with some of his most famous books!! I do like the ones we’ve read though

    Reply
  • Emily @amummytoo
    March 6, 2014 at 11:14 am

    This looks like fun and very colourful and engaging. I think my two would enjoy it.

    Reply
  • Madison auto
    May 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Always keep it up

    Reply

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