Review: The Tale of Mr Tod, The Avenue theatre, Ipswich, to January 3

Red Rose Chain's latest Christmas show, The Tale of Mr Tod. Photos: Bill Jackson

Red Rose Chain's latest Christmas show, The Tale of Mr Tod. Photos: Bill Jackson - Credit: Archant

Sometimes, less is more. That was definitely the case with writer and director Joanna Carrick’s magical adaption of this Beatrix Potter tale.

Red Rose Chain's latest Christmas show, The Tale of Mr Tod. Photos: Bill Jackson

Red Rose Chain's latest Christmas show, The Tale of Mr Tod. Photos: Bill Jackson - Credit: Archant

Youngsters Ben and Janie move to seemingly sleepy Suffolk. Venturing into the attic of their new home they find loads of junk left behind by the previous occupants, including the book The Tale of Mr Tod.

Cue Benjamin Bunny’s dash to stop his children being turned into pie filling by beastly badger Tommy Brock, who’s hidden them at the home of the disagreeable fox Mr Tod.

We felt like kids again, watching the cast tear about the stage, using whatever they found to bring the story vividly to life. A hat stand doubled as a tree, cleverly positioned pots as a steep hill, stuffed toys as the kidnapped baby rabbits, a chest of drawers as a plane.

That’s how I played as a child, when the only limit to what I could do was my imagination. Forget whatever faddy gadget is topping Christmas wish lists this year. It’ll never top the climatic funny, frenetic fight scene between Todd and Brock in terms of sheer inventiveness.

Red Rose Chain's latest Christmas show, The Tale of Mr Tod. Photos: Bill Jackson

Red Rose Chain's latest Christmas show, The Tale of Mr Tod. Photos: Bill Jackson - Credit: Archant

Baking with Brock deserves its own show...

It’s darker than most Potter stories; enough to captivate adults but not too much so children are frightened.

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There were a lot of little kids the night we went, all of whom sat totally enraptured for the full 90-minutes; which is no mean feat. It proves how good the show was.

Red Rose Chain regulars Rachael McCormick as Potter and Kirsty Thorpe as Janie were fantastic while newcomer Lawrence Russell as Ben is a real find. We hope to see him back at The Avenue soon. Each playing multiple characters, you never lose track of who’s who; especially vital when you’re playing to youngsters.

All in all, a beautiful show for children or for adults who want to feel like children again. Go behind the scenes here.

Wayne Savage

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