Zany, unpredictable, gaudy and still packing an environmental punch, Dr Seuss's Lorax made a half-term pilgrimage back to the Old Vic Stage prior to a much anticipated North American tour next year.
First in Waterloo two Christmases ago, David Greig's inspired adaptation of the battle between the Once-ler and his conscience – as the Lorax again solemnly pleads for the trees – this version retains and even adds to the same pace and sense of purpose with, perhaps, even more this time around for the adults.
In a review of the first production here during this show's first outing my colleague suggested the adults might have been left wanting – but not so this time around.
The innuendos are never far from the surface along with the pub type humour swirling around the gassy creatures affected terribly by man's pollution to the animals, but the kids remained riveted and their attention firmly grabbed. They've not sold as much interval ice cream [it's delicious] at the Old Vic [I overheard] for many years.
A particular mention for David Ricardo-Pearce who, along with Laura Caldow and Ben Thompson steer (as his puppeteers) the Lorax around the stage for a frenetic two hours. But I couldn't take my eyes off Ricardo-Pearce's sheer attention to detail in creating exactly the kind of antithesis to Simon Paisley Day's The Once-ler both in word and song: Ricardo-Peers is brilliant, has a wonderful recording voice and is totally understated.
I can see why Matthew Warchus gave the Lorax another outing prior to his North America debut where many will come across an Old Vic production for the first time.
And a true gem this is, spanning the ages, crossing the boundaries and leaving that deep seated environmental message that we are all indeed responsible (President Trump has a mention in this version, by the way – an obvious addition, this time around). This is the strongest environmental parabolic interpretation of good stewardship of the earth anyone will come across. It still leaves a lump in the throat. Grab a seat before the ship sails for Canada.