cat in the hat

The Cat in the Hat

Coventry Belgrade

***

THEODOR Geisel’s children’s book, written under his pen name Dr Seuss, has its 60th birthday in 2017 and despite heading towards pensionable age it still has a certain charm and a remarkably silly storyline.

But don’t knock it, young children love silly such as a talking fish, a mischievous talking cat in a hat who introduces all manner of magical and madcap games and strange creatures Things 1 and 2 – and all creating a magical, mad world while mother is out.

The book was a response to concerns about literacy in US schools and uses just 236 easy to read aloud and say words, describing the lively illustrations by the author - even the title is based on the first two words Geisel found that rhymed.

Its success means it is still popular and much loved today as a beginner’s book in helping youngsters to read and open up the wonderful world of literature.

This National Theatre stage version, first produced in 2009 has the aim of introducing young children to the equally wonderful world of theatre.

Adapted by Katie Mitchell and directed by Lille Collier, in general it succeeds in a riot of movement, colour and endless simple rhymes, which any parent of grandparent will know is a delight of small children.

I wonder if anyone has counted the number of words real and invented children have devised to rhyme with poo for example.

Thus we had a hardworking cast of six, full of enthusiasm, playing the two children Sally and her brother, bored to tears on a rainy day too wet to play out, have a mysterious visitor, a cat in a hat, who cheerfully sets about creating mayhem – much to the dismay of the rather staid, stuffy fish in a bowl – or a teapot when the cat expands even his . . or her world beyond the glass.

Throw in bubble machines in the roof sending clouds down into the audience and three huge balloons thrown into the audience, Slava’s Snowshow style, and there is plenty to keep young minds enthralled amid the rhymes, physical jokes and rapid changes of direction at the hands of the cat

The real test of success for shows for children 3+ though is not what adults think – they are not the target audience – and the real customers were quiet, attentive, with little fidgeting and no chattering, no regular exodus to the toilet, clapping along or shouting responses when asked and cheering and applauding at the end. And that, in the world of children’s theatre is a hit. To 31-10-15.

Roger Clarke

29-10-15

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