Review: I Was A Rat, Teatro Kismet, New Wolsey Theatre until March 16

Fox Jackson-Keen as Roger - I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman staged by Teatro Kismet at the New Wolsey

Fox Jackson-Keen as Roger - I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman staged by Teatro Kismet at the New Wolsey Theatre and Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman, adapted by Teresa Ludovico, Teatro Kismet, New Wolsey Theatre until March 16, then Bury Theatre Royal, April 16-20

Tyrone Huggins (Bob), Fox Jackson-Keen (Roger) and Lorna Gayle (Joan) - I Was A Rat by Philip Pullma

Tyrone Huggins (Bob), Fox Jackson-Keen (Roger) and Lorna Gayle (Joan) - I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman staged by Teatro Kismet at the New Wolsey Theatre and Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Teatro Kismet have a reputation for delivering visually stunning theatre. The Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast and The Mermaid Princess have wowed audiences with their unique combination of narrative theatre, dance, music and circus skills.

Lighting, sound and presentation have all added to the company’s dazzling ability to tell a story.

Until now dialogue has been kept to a minimum with director Teresa Ludovico preferring the international language of movement and sound to get the story across.

With I Was A Rat, she breaks new ground. This is not only the first time she uses an all-British cast, this is also the first time she has adapted an existing novel. Although, the play has a dialogue driven narrative drive, all the elements of physical theatre that make Teatro Kismet shows so hugely entertaining are still present.


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It is a show largely populated by comic grotesques but the story is anchored by the presence of two kindly older characters Joan and Bob (Lorna Gayle and Tyrone Huggins) who give the play its heart. Former Billy Elliott star Fox Jackson-Keen gives the larger-than-life tale bags of energy and agility as Roger – the boy who believes that he was once a rat and turns up one rain-soaked night on Joan and Bob’s doorstep.

Teresa Ludovico brings out the fairytale elements of the play. There are allusions to Cinderella and Pinocchio but this is a family show rather than a children’s show, so there are plenty of contemporary references for grown-up audiences to savour including wry allusions to the horsemeat scandal, the craven popularity-seeking actions of politicians and the way that some newspapers have a habit of making a story just a tad more colourful.

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It’s a fabulous, high energy show, which revels in its international flavour sampling Britain, central Europe and the southern United States. There is plenty to enjoy for both grown-ups and children with the comic policemen being a particular favourite with the children in the audience.

If only all theatre could be this colourful and imaginative.

Andrew Clarke

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