Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

badger and fox

Garret Awre as Badger and Andy Hoole as Mr Fox. Pictures: Roy Palmer

The Fantastic Mr Fox

Hall Green Little Theatre


Director Roy Palmer has aimed this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel firmly at families. It is short, around an hour, fun, and has enough of Dahl’s darker elements to delight youngsters – don’t they just love all the gruesome bits!

The tale is simple. Mr Fox makes nightly raids on farms owned by a trio of nasty, cruel, wicked but rather stupid farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean to nick, respectively, their chickens, geese and ducks, and cider.

This does not go down well with the farmers, our archetypal baddies, who then proceed to first shoot, then dig out the fox family, eventually surrounding the entire hill and trapping all the inhabitants, moles, badgers, rabbits, weasels . . . underground where they start to starve.

That is until Mr Fox comes up with a fantastic, cunning plan to save not only the day, but all the inhabitants - and leave the farmers looking even more stupid.

The cast enter and leave down the aisles, encouraging the audience to join in, led by Badger, played by Garret Awre, who acts as a sort of Greek chorus-come-narrator.

I am not sure if stentorian can be applied to a juvenile, unbroken voice, but it certainly fits and his enunciation is first class, every word clear as a bell with effective phrasing and expression to move the story along.


Effective lighting gives us the farmers and their guns in silhouette

He sits on a log at the side of a splendid set designed by Palmer which gives us a hill and beneath it a foxes den with a small video wall, with video and lighting from Tal Bainbridge, which creates the tunnels and caverns as the fox family escape the diggers, and the underfloor of henhouses, store rooms and cider cellars.

The design allows for a good use of silhouettes on the hill to give a cartoon effect while the effects of digger buckets in semi-darkness is quite superb, with the whole thing helped by dramatic music from Richard Woodward who also plays Farmer Bunce, with Oli Scott as Boggis and Michael Parker as Bean.

Andy Hoole is the eternally optimistic Mr Fox, one step ahead of the pack, ]who can even explain away the fact that his stealing of livestock and cider is not really a crime when it is questioned by Badger – a view which might need a little qualification for little ones on the way home.

With him is Ranji Sian as Mrs Fox, and children Maisie-Leigh Jones, Jamie Luton and Molly Scott, and we run into Mille Dodd as the cantankerous rat in the cider cellar and Olivia Wilson as Mabel, who has a right old moan about Farmer Bean, after she is sent into the cellar to collect more jugs of cider.

Millie also doubles up – or should that be down in size – as mouse, while Olivia fluffs up as Rabbit.

To make up the menagerie we have Jess Donnelly as Weasel and Anika Kambo as Mole with Josph Kilker bringing up the rear as Young Badger.

Opening night was finding its feet, with a few moments needing an injection of pace, but with first night out of the way it is well produced with bags of charm, enthusiasm and fun, does not run too late, and promises to delight children. To 25-05-19

Roger Clarke


Matinee performances on Sunday 19 May and Saturday 25. 

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