I sat there with daughter. We sat there, we two. And said, “How we wish We had something to do!” Too wet to go out And too cold to play ball – it’s been a classic half term. So we went to see ‘Dr Seuss’s The Cat In The Hat’ for a bit.
The sets are true to the book – De Stiljian palette, and giant-sized 3B pencil marks scribbled across the clothes of the children and bellies of the cats – the glee-filled comfort of a primary coloured palette for primary-aged children.
The Fish deserves special mention – a playful, half actor, half puppet, sugar pink voice of sense amid the chaos The Cat brings to the house in mother’s absence for an entire day (oh mothers, do you hear that? A whole day!)
But there’s something a bit off about the pacing. The books are a hurtle through on and off kilter, tethered by those much loved rhyming couplets. But to stretch out such brisk rhyme to fill almost three quarters of an hour (it’s a very short play, this one), much of the comedy becomes physical instead of verbal – more mime than rhyme – and the poetry is lost, chopped up and dragged out by perfectly perfunctory RP actors (The Cat veers between Derek Jacobi and Matt Lucas’ Shooting Stars baby with his delivery). It feels slightly laggy and claggy and old, just lacking in something that’s crazy or bold…
Until Thing 1 and Thing 2 make an appearance. The house lights go up, and the audience is suddenly plunged into chaos as non-Thing things come flying out of the wings and across the stalls, and the Things themselves scudder up the aisles, shaking hands, blowing raspberries, blowing raspberries into hands and then shaking them… It all feels utterly naughty and bewildering, and properly delightful for it. Finally, fully Seussian.
I’d give it three stars out of five, quite alright. And my child? A full ten, she says, brilliant and bright.
The Cat In The Hat is at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre from Thursday 2 June until Saturday 6 June 2016.
Photo: Anna Morell