A Dr Seuss classic is brought to the stage for the Old Vic's festive offering.
Bringing Dr Seuss to the theatre feels like a very good idea; his quirky, offbeat characters lend themselves to the stage and a large, appreciative audience. The Old Vic has not chosen to adapt one of Dr Seuss's best known works (at least, not in the UK), but instead decided upon The Lorax, the story of an environmental crusader in the shape of a small, furry moustached creature of unknown origin.
As Christmas plays go it's rather fun, with a large ensemble and a brightly decorated stage. The Lorax himself is a delight to watch, thanks to the cast's brilliant puppetry control. And the mechanics of the birds flying are particularly impressive. The music, by Charlie Fink (formerly of Noah and the Whale), heightens the sense of energy and fun.
The Lorax is the protector of the trees and by extension stands in defence of natural beauty. In reality of course humans govern their own actions and the play is a call to arms for us to do precisely that. The concept of a 'thneed', something which people clamour for but isn't really necessary or affords any real purpose, is a useful reminder for us all especially at this time of year.
Yet, whilst the children in the audience seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, there was less scope for the adults to do so. Whilst undoubtedly a faithful representation of the original book, it felt a little bit simplistic and, at times, preachy.
The Lorax is exemplary of the change of direction that the new Artistic Director, Matthew Warchus, is taking The Old Vic in. When he was appointed, he declared "I don't want the Old Vic to be posh anymore". The Lorax is the opposite of stuffy, fussy theatre. And it was great to see the place full of children who were completely engrossed; a rare sight. I'm just not sure this is one for 'all of the ages'.
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