Review: Fantastic Mr Fox at Nuffield Southampton Theatres

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Madness!

The team of Fantastic Mr Fox do Roald Dahl's classic tale justice, in this energy-filled, vibrant production.

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Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Curve Theatre have collaborated to deliver a brand new telling of Fantastic Mr Fox, originally written by the king of all storytellers: Roald Dahl. Fantastic Mr Fox is a story of how one scheming, thrill-seeking fox outwits infamous villains Boggis, Bunce and Bean; finally defeating them with the help of his friends and family. Dahl’s tale is brimming with adventure, friendship and revenge, all of which are captured with quirk and flamboyance within this new performance, which brings the novel to the stage in an original way. A bright, chaotic set held a diverse array of settings, and live music wove beautifully throughout each scene, setting the tone for a fun-filled, Dahl-esque theatre extravaganza.

Dahl’s eccentric dark humour was captured instantly within the opening song; four blue, feathery birds harmonised a cappella into sparkly microphones, their song cut short as one dropped dead at a farmer’s shot. This excellent comic timing was constant throughout the show, with each actor clearly polished with their line delivery, all helped a lot by the impeccable modernised script by Sam Holcroft. Holcroft’s wit is on par with Dahl, ensuring the undivided attention of the adults in the audience, with the slapstick visuals and unpredictable set sure to delight the kids.

The same can be said for composer Arthur Darvill and the lyricists, who, in spite of the aim of child audience, managed to avoid cheesiness, and embody the quirkiness and comedy of the story. The soundtrack provided many of the laughs, mostly during the ghastly, sadistic songs of Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The live onstage band brought authenticity to the performance; the music was truly engrained into the show, pulling it together and providing a level of energy and tension throughout. This was a breath of fresh air, as even bizarre sound effects were created by the band itself, forming a realistic and raw aural experience.

This sense of rawness and believability was driven with dedication by the whole cast involved. Each actor held an unflinching stage presence as their character, and it was clear how much character exploration had been invested in by the whole cast. The extravagant animal caricatures were displayed with precision, particularly by Kelly Jackson, whose twitchy depiction of Mouse was enough to transport you straight into the world of Mr Fox. Raphael Bushay was cast perfectly for the role of Boggis, and when on stage with Gruffudd Glyn and Richard Atwill (Bunce and Bean), the three actors worked as a powerhouse together, truly bringing out the best in each other in both comedy and performance.

This Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Curve collaboration successfully encapsulated the story of Fantastic Mr Fox with excitement and passion. The musicians and cast kept the audience in hysterics, and the combination of energy, colour, chaos and song made for a spectacular show. This is a truly polished production which will ensure the enjoyment of all ages.

Fantastic Mr Fox is at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton from 22nd November 2016 – 8th January 2017. To find out more, click here.

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A BSc Sociology student who spends her time pretending to know stuff, eating plants and quoting Napoleon Dynamite.

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