Tuesday, 22 December 2015

REVIEW - The Lorax, Old Vic


"I AM the Lorax! I speak for the trees". That is the proclamation of the Lorax, a beaver like animal with a fabulous moustache and extra long arms and who is the environmental campaigner in Dr Seuss's book of the same name.
His story, written in 1971, has provided the inspiration for a musical interpretation adapted by David Greig and brought to the Old Vic stage by director Max Webster.
And they have done a great job. For they have taken this classic tale, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes to read, and spun it into one which has been embellished with both extra text and music to make a show of about two hours.
The Lorax is a somewhat cantankerous chap who is on a mission to save and protect the earth from greedy people like the Once-ler and his family.
He lives in a forest full of Truffula trees which bears a fruit which the Once-ler has discovered can be used to make thneeds - oddly shaped things that have a variety of uses.
Unfortunately for the Lorax and his animal chums, the market for these thneeds increases and so does the chopping of trees until there is nothing left except a factory, pollution and crucially, nowhere for the animals to live and breathe.
The show is just glorious. Full of invention, colour and plenty of razzle dazzle it blends puppetry, songs and theatrical wizardry with all the eccentricity and humour from the book to make it fit for all the family.
Puppeteers Simon Lipkin, Ben Thompson and Laura Cubitt bring the orange coloured Lorax wonderfully to life where even the subtlest gestures are beautifully executed.
Elsewhere puppeteers are responsible for a trio of hilarious open mouthed dancing fish, yellow-coloured flying swans and the vibrantly coloured trees.
There are also three dark red bears who show off their acrobatic skills, a donkey and swan ballerinas.
Clad in green, Simon Paisley-Day is a jovial Once-ler whose conscience is caught between the environmental aims of the Lorax and the greed of his family.
Ultimately greed wins but at the detriment to the forest and its inhabitants who slope off stage with heads bowed.
It is a cautionary tale, which despite the hilarity, fun and frolics of the piece, is kept very much at the front of what is a wonderful production.

The Lorax is at the Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo until Saturday, January 16. Tickets from £12. Visit www.oldvictheatre.com/ or call the box office on 0844 871 7628.

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