23rd Sep, 2020

101 Dalmatians at the Birmingham Rep was 'spot on'

Bromsgrove Editorial 7th Dec, 2017

The REP’s Christmas offering is a stage adaptation by Debbie Isitt of the classic children’s book ‘The One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ by Dodie Smith.

This show is aimed directly at a very young audience, don’t expect any subtlety – this is a full on assault on the senses by a multi–functional cast who are puppeteers, musicians, singers and actors.

This production is actually a very good introduction to the magic of the theatre for youngsters who are used to watching their entertainment on small and big screens; directed by Tessa Walker what this show lacks in subtlety it more than makes up for in heart.

And it is the second Debbie Isitt production at the REP in as many months – the first being the fabulous stage version of her film ‘Nativity’ which is now on a national tour.

The opening sequence of dog walkers is delightful where the adult Dalmatians Pongo and Missis meet in the park and fall in love as do their ‘owners’ or as the dogs refer to them, ‘their pets’.

There follows a roller-coaster of a story which sees the pair live together, Missis expecting puppies, Cruella de Vil wanting to turn the puppies into a coat when they were born and enlisting the help of two evil henchmen.

All of course ends well with the doggies home for Christmas, though personally I was horrified at the prospect of sharing Christmas day fireside with one hundred and one dogs!

Lewis Griffin and Luke Murphy were both superb as baddies Jasper and Saul Baddum, bringing plenty of entertainment to the show.

Gloira Onitiri was suitably evil as Cruella de Vil and Mel Mac stole the show as the Persian cat who saves the day and finds the stolen pups – a joyous portrayal of the laid back cleverness of cats.

The puppetry director Jimmy Grimes, famous for the National Theatre’s production of War Horse, did an impeccable job creating the dalmatians and other animals.

Review by Euan Rose.

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