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Fortunately for us, the sun shone on a warm August evening for an alfresco adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox performed by the compact touring company Illyria. The story unfolded with the aid of puppetry and live music and song culminating with a singalong finale, ‘Cider Inside Her Inside’. Maybe it was the animal costumes, or the farmers’ masks, or maybe it was the mixture of gentle folky songs and musical sound effects that gave this production a Wicker Man feel (in a good way!). Children were captivated, and the relaxed atmosphere created by families picnicking on rugs in front of the stage made for a perfect evening’s entertainment.
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ROALD Dahl’s cunning trickster was brought to life in a fantastic fashion at the Wardrobe Museum Gardens. The six-strong cast did well in bringing Dahl’s distinctive brand of humour, adventure and dark moralistic meaning to life, aided by some fabulous costumes, clever props and catchy tunes. The farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean were marvellously menacing, the little foxes charmingly not so little, and Fantastic Mr Fox perhaps rather more unequivocally heroic than Dahl intended but appreciated nonetheless. This was a children’s show which the children seemed to thoroughly enjoy, and that surely is the most important thing.
Given that performing in the open air and for children are risky activities, at the same time the players not only enjoyed the bonus of a big cheer when they first appeared, before they had even said or done anything, but also an even bigger one when the curtain came down on the show. Between the cheers we are treated to a feast of storytelling more mouthwatering even than the secret food store of the three villains of the piece. Everything seems to come in threes here: "Boggis and Bunce and Bean – one fat, one short, one lean." Whether or not they should be regarded as "horrible crooks" is arguable, depending upon which side of the farmer's fence you happen to be sitting, but in Roald Dahl's book they definitely get the thumbs down. However, the six members of the cast, Frank Teale, Ruth Cataroche, Kevin James, Ben Goodridge, Natalie Piper and Robert Took – who are, of course, neutral – get the thumbs up. They share a score of parts and dash in and out of character and costume at speed without, as far as one can tell, putting a shotgun or shovel wrong. A show not for vegetarians perhaps, but splendid for everyone else.
Western Morning News