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Theatre review: Fantastic Mr Fox at the Little Angel Theatre

PUBLISHED: 13:35 25 September 2014 | UPDATED: 13:35 25 September 2014

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It’s not surprising that Roald Dahl’s irrepressible creation Fantastic Mr Fox is such a star. Immortalized on the silver screen in Wes Anderson’s animated feature film, the audacious Mr Fox is now enjoying yet another moment in the sun in this stylish revival of the Little Angel’s production.

Dahl purists won’t be disappointed by this expertly streamlined adaptation by Sarah Woods with music and songs by Ben Glasstone. Woods cuts back on dialogue and forefronts Glasstone’s punchy numbers to illustrate and propel the action forward.

All the story’s original elements are here: debonair Mr Fox lives the good life with his loving wife and cubs except he has three fearsome enemies – the farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

The farmers attempt to shoot him, starve him out of his lair, then dig up acres of neighboring land in their desperate attempt to annihilate the artful chicken thief but Mr Fox outwits them at every turn. Steve Tiplady directs with verve and my five-year old companion was transfixed throughout.

The ingenious set by Peter O’Rourke has so many layers and surprises that the hide-and-seek narrative never tires.

Dahl’s gothic imagination is played out through the ghoulish farmer puppets but otherwise this tale of resourcefulness triumphing over the farmers’ tactics of thuggish intimidation is joyous to its very core.

The cider stealing sequence went down particularly well with the grown-ups, especially when Fox’s pompous friend Badger declares: ‘‘Cider is good for badgers. You take it as medicine.’’

It’s possible to read an oblique environmental warning into Dahl’s classic tale but what is so engaging is the story’s enduring moral message – that loyalty, hard work and determination pay off.

Add a neat dose of anarchy and the sky – or in this case the farmers’ glorious food supply – is your limit.

Rating: Four stars

Until November 9.


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