by Dodie Smith adapted by Glyn Robbins lyrics and additional material by Andrew Doyle songs by Craig Adams.

The Castle 10 Castle Way NN8 1XA To 28 December 2014.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS: 01933 270007.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 December.

Rescued dogs come enjoyably home to a 404-legged octopus of a family.
At the Castle, a breezy tale of pups and pets. The humans, you understand, constitute the latter, and life in 1950s England might be very pleasant for Dalmatian Pongo, his missis and their live-in friend Perdita, were it not for the méchant Cruella De Vil, whose beloved fur-coats clearly come from the Dalmatian coast among other canine sources.

In the absence of a Dangerous Humans Act, Cruella has been able to snatch the Pongo pups, all fifteen of them, and with colourful settings from designer Victoria Spearing and music played live on stage by the cast of Luke Sheppard’s production, the search is on, leading to Suffolk.

The musical style is announced through an instrument-selling stall on what might be a street just a few échelons below the one where you live in My Fair Lady – a delightful row of angled houses, with a sitting-room for the Pongo residence. Thence to Suffolk and the forbidding exterior of Cruella’s Hell Hall, an assertive variant of the smaller London houses, whose owner has converted its name from the more affable Hill Hall.

A suitably breezy manner is adopted by Sheppard’s lively cast. There is concern but nothing too serious to trouble the wits; just enough to keep the story going, with the help of several songs (the ability of so many British actors these days to play an instrument while part of the scene is one of the more positive developments in British theatre).

As the opposing sides meet and Cruella – a sophisticated, selfish sneer ready to form around her false smile at any time in Sioned Jones’ fur-wrapped performance – reveals her fangs, the audience is brought on board in several pantomime-like moments of involvement. Having already howled and barked Pongo on the way, there’s a chance to take sides and sing.

It’s all good fun, and brightly presented by the actors with their inevitably amplified voices (the overt amplification of actors’ voices so frequent nowadays is one of theatre’s more controversial developments). There isn’t the depth of the finest Christmas-time adaptations, but this honest, bright show should be widely enjoyed.

Pongo: John Addison.
James-or-Whoever: Tom Attwood.
Mr Dearly/Sir Charles/Terrier: Joseph Carey.
Nanny Butler/Saul Baddun: Lee Drage.
Mrs Dearly/Golden Retriever/Lieutenant at: Lesley Harcourt.
Persian Cat/Perdita/Spaniel/Colonel Sheepdog: Deborah Hewitt.
Cruella De Vil: Sioned Jones.
Nanny Cook/Jasper Baddun: Alice Keedwell.
Missis: Kirsty Malpass.
Dalmatians: Erin Borbas, Zoe Callow, Ella Chandler, Tom Daly, Eleanor Davis, Oliver Davis, Emily Day, Jonty Evans, Bethany Folkes, Emily Graham, Sophie Green, Emily Griffiths, Harry Lines, Ned Mansfield, Martha Moore, Eleanor Morrison, Ella Moss, William Moverly, Ashleigh Page, Nia Rees, Esme Rickwood, Mia Riste, Siena Rista, Jennifer Shin, Caitlin Shorrock, Charly Thompson, Tegan Wainwright, Jef West, Blake White, James Worbey, Mikayla Zeiler/
Ellishia Austin, Emily Barlow, Conrad Basi, Nicole Billingham, Elizabeth Brown, Harry Brown, Rebecca Carter, Archie Clark, Eadie-Rose Clarke, Shannon Collyer, Jordan Dormer, Chloe Emmerson, James Everett, Boe Fillingham, Faith Graham, Ella Hartley, Jasmine Heath, Kayeden Hines Rachel Keevil, Aimee King, Daiel King, James McCallum, Amelia Morten, Lauren Reid, Rttana Samwansri, Isabelle Spencer-Pearson, Miranda Spencer-Pearson./
Hannah Baldwin, Abigail Bardell, Jay Blakesley, Scarltt Bolwell, Elle Brunskill, Gemma Callow, Thomas Dolm an, Freya Gidney, Emily Gilbey, Keira Giles, Ryan Humphreys, Mya Kelly, Abbie Leghorn, Ellie McAspurn, Rowan Mellish, Patrick Moriaty, Emily-May Palmer, Katie Palmer, Ellie Roberts, Charlotte Roche-King, Avni Savjani, Giselle Smith, Maddie Smith, Rowen Standishday, Harry Stanton, Leah Stock, Aimee Sturgess, John Trevillion, Leticia Tuti Summer West, Sam Whiting, Emily Wilkes.

Director: Luke Sheppard.
Designer: Victoria Spearing.
Lighting: Howard Hudson.
Musical Arranger/Musical Director: Tom Attwood.
Costume: Gabriella Slade.

2013-12-23 13:20:44

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