A lot of thought and imagination has clearly gone into Teresa Ludovico’s adaptation of I Was A Rat! and the effort was certainly worth it, judging by the enthusiastic response from the young audience members at Nottingham Playhouse on the night I attended.
This stage version of Philip Pullman’s popular book requires quite a leap of imagination at times, performed as it is on a bare stage, but children are more than capable of achieving that and the play offers a welcome Easter treat for theatregoing families.
A mixture of mime, music, movement and minimal props and effects helps to tell thestory effectively.
The play begins with a knock at the door of elderly cobbler Bob and his wife Joan (Tyrone Huggins and Lorna Gayle) one stormy night.
Outside is eager young man Roger who insists ‘I was a rat’ when the couple ask who he is and where he has come.
The outlandish journey to get to the bottom of his tale unfurls over a selection of short and lively scenes, all inhabited by colourful and often grotesque characters, played by a versatile supporting cast of five, who also turn their hand to various musical instruments when required.
Costumes, lighting and music all combine very impressively to create a slightly unsettling but still enjoyable story and at the heart of it is the talented Fox Jackson-Keen.
His role in the West End version of Billy Elliot has equipped him well for one particular scene where he spectacularly dances for the circus audience he is forced to entertain.
Jackson-Keen’s energetic and lively performance provides the beating heart at the centre I Was A Rat!, around which all sorts of weirdness and eccentricities can flourish, to very entertaining effect.
I Was A Rat! is on at Nottingham Playhouse until April 13 before touring.
It comes highly recommended for those wishing to sample something a little out of the ordinary this Easter.