IF you want a family show filled with furry super heroes, a strong environmental message and great songs and dances, head for the Nuffield on Southampton University campus this Christmas.
There Sam Holcroft’s stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s favourite story is on stage until 8th January, when it begins its 17-venue UK tour until the middle of next summer.
It’s not a Christmas show, but it will do very nicely, thank you.
It is the story of the showy, arrogant and indispensable Mr Fox, saviour of the day for his animal friends and neighbours, and what happens when he’s forced to confront his own frailty.
Mr Fox, aka The Fantastic, lives with his family on the side of the hill. In the valley below, farmers Bunce, Boggis and Bean are getting fed up with the foxy forays, and decide to take their guns and put an end to the nightly raids. Their bungling misses Mr F’s head, but takes off his magnificent brush, and no matter how much he brags, he just can’t manage without the balance it has given him.
Like all fairy stories, it comes out right in the end, but not before he and the other animals have to go through hoops of concrete and steel to outwit the farmers, and secure their food supply in perpetuity.
The message is that everything on the earth has a place, a strength and a purpose, and it’s a lesson that not only the farmers but the fox all have to learn, the hard way.
The terrific cast, which includes actor musicians in the on-stage band, is led by Greg Barnett in the title role, with the excellent Richard Atwill as a really ratty Rat and a Farmer Bean with a bit of a back story.
Sandy Foster is a daffy Rabbit, with Lilly Flynn and Jade Croot as the fox family, Gruffudd Glyn as belligerent Bunce and near-blind geologist Mole, Kelly Jackson as sharp-eared Mouse, and Raphael Bushay as a wise badger and a gourmand Boggis.
Arthur Darvill has composed some memorable songs, and Maria Aberg’s direction with Ayse Tashkiran’s choreography and Tom Scutt’s colourful design make this a show that delights all ages.
Fantastic Mr Fox blends excitement and spectacle with a story that sets you thinking.