Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company
In association with Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Teatro Kismet (Bari, Italy)
I Was A Rat!
By Philip Pullman
Adapted and directed by Teresa Ludovico
English version by David Watson
Nottingham Playhouse to Saturday 13th April 2013
Matinee Saturdays 30th March, 6th April 2.30, Friday 29th March, Wednesday 3rd, Thursday 4th, Tuesday 9th, Wednesday 10th, Thursday 11th April 1.30
Audio described performances Saturday 6th April 2.30 and Wednesday 10th April 6.30, captioned performance Thursday 11th April 1.30, signed interpreted performance Friday 12th April 6.30
16th to 20th April, Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal
23rd to 25th April, Truro Hall for Cornwall
1st to 4th May, Cambridge Arts Theatre
7th to 11th May, The Lowry Salford
15th to 18th May, Exeter Northcott Theatre
22nd to 25th May, Leeds, City Varieties Music Hall
20th May to 1 June, Hereford Courtyard Theatre
TICKETS: 0115 9419419
Review: Jen Mitchell 27th March 2013
Runs 2hrs. One interval
Stylised and hugely physical, Philip Pullman’s magical and darkly amusing tale is brought vividly to life this gripping and energetic adaptation.
Late at night, a boy knocks on the door of a childless couple and announces, “I was a rat!”. As the couple struggle to do the right thing, a chain of increasingly comic and tragic events is set in motion taking the audience on a ride through palaces, fairgrounds, courts and sewers. The adult world of bureaucracy, tabloid journalism and authority in its many guises is at best questionable and at worst ridiculous and cruel in its attempts to label the sweet and guileless rat boy.
The appearance of the piece is reminiscent of the Italian commedia dell’arte tradition – with ensemble who at various points represent the adult, authority figures by donning a selection of false noses, masks, hats and some gaudy and grotesque costumes. Their combined talents treat the audience to some super mimes – notably giving chase to Roger in an impressive slow motion chase scene.
Fox Jackson-Keen as Roger, reveals himself to be an incredibly talented dancer; cruelly made to perform as the ‘rat boy’ in Mr Tapscrew’s fairground sideshow he whirls and leaps in a remarkable gymnastic performance. Tyrone Huggins (Bob) and Lorna Gayle (Joan) are generous and touching as the middle aged couple who adopt Roger and who are, eventually, his redemption.
Vincent Longuemare’s stunning lighting design leaves no need for a physical set – instead the use of a ‘lightset’ creates the spaces for the physical action of the piece. Frank Moon’s music, brilliantly played by The Destroyers, adds a soundtrack of discordant eastern European harmonies. Both of which serve to underline the grotesque and the joyous elements of the play.
Philip Pullman’s tale of injustice has echoes of Dickens and his anger at society’s ability to label and condemn is palpable but the tale does have a happy ending leaving the audience with hope for Roger and the future.
Mr Tapscrew/City Hall Clerk/Editor in Chief/Inspector/Judge/Palace Guard: Christopher Dingli
Joan/Mrs Cannonball: Lorna Gayle
Billy/Doctor/Monkey Man/Rat: Joey Hickman
Philosopher Royal/Police Dog/Bearded Barbie/Palace Guard: TJ Holmes
Bob/Mr Cannonball: Tyrone Huggins
Roger: Fox Jackson-Keen
Mrs Cribbins/Horse Man/Prime Minister/Rat: Jack Jones
Mrs Tapscrew/Sergeant/Mother Rat/Journalist/Public Prosecutor: Dodger Phillips
Journalists, politicians, policemen, the princess and the rats played by members of the company
Adapted and Directed by: Teresa Ludovico
Lightset Designer: Vincent Longuemare
Costume Designer: Luigi Spezzacatene
Composer: Frank Moon
Movement Director: Yann Seabra
Sound Design: Dan Hoole
Puppet Advisor: Ben Thompson