Fantastic Mr Fox, showing in the Heath Ledger Theatre, was a smash hit. Adapted for the stage by Shake and Stir Theatre Co, Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox has been metamorphosed into a spectacular array of comical charm and fantastical theatrics; it is a truly visual feast and enjoyable performance for all ages.
The six indubitably talented cast members, Nick Skubij (Mr Fox), Helen Cassidy (Mrs Fox, and others), Johnny Balbuziente (Chase, son of Mr Fox), Leon Cain (Farmer Boggis, and others), Nelle Lee (Farmer Bunce, and Badger), and Tim Dashwood (Farmer Bean, and others), were an immense pleasure to observe throughout the performance. Their high-energy and enthusiasm seemed never to wane as they dashed, dived, climbed, rolled, and rumbled around the stage, making purposeful use of the many levels and props provided. Each performer was engaging, interactive, and professional – their exceptional abilities were certainly a complementary match to the action-packed show.
Costumes, set, lighting, and music were striking each in their own way, and exhilarating to the senses. Children and adults alike gasped with joy when the set’s tiered performance space transitioned into a colourful cartoon background, an interactive playground for the cast to make the impossible seem possible.
The performers drew the audience in from the get-go. At times, the adapted storyline plodded along, but by the second half, the rising tension and climax had recaptured the audience’s attention and the show remained truly sensational. A clear crowd favourite was a cleverly constructed fight scene, a delightfully uproarious dance number, and a gut-busting game of cat and mouse which thrilled the younger children; if an attendee had not laughed before these particular scenes, rest assured they did then.
A few parents were uncomfortable with the idea of an alcoholic rat, and an underaged-swig of cider by Chase (quite hilariously touched upon by the character himself), but these moments were fleeting, and many of the children simply overlooked their existence in the production. The remainder of parents laughed the hardest, though, so perhaps it’s fitting for an all-ages performance. Mr Fox also called someone an “ass,” but I’m sure the kids of today have heard much worse.
Ultimately, Fantastic Mr Fox is, well… Fantastic. Cast, crew, and Shake and Stir Co have created a fun and thrilling production for an audience of all ages. The perfectly crafted comedy balances the younger/older one-liners and wisecracks marvellously, and the ever-changing set is stupendous to behold. If you have the opportunity to attend Fantastic Mr Fox, or any of Shake and Stir’s performances, it is highly recommended that you do.