There’s enough blood and guts in here to keep the kids entertained, I think.
Ductac was teeming with children, young and younger, when Fantastic Mr Fox began on Sunday night. A tale of teamwork winning against terrible odds, the musical began with the introduction of the three farmers — Boggis, Bunce and Bean — cruel as cruel can be.
Then came the heroic fox who pulled a Robin Hood act — stealing food from the rich humans for the poor animals. The trouble began when the famers realised they’re been stolen from and decided to chase down the robber. The animals were forced into digging for their lives, while the farmers staked out the tunnels and try to starve them out.
Sam Holcroft’s Fantastic Mr Fox was a retelling of Roald Dhal’s classic of the same name. It’s been updated though — both in terms of plot (Kit, the Foxs’ child, was fond of technology and vital to the success of their raid), character (each one had a quirk) and dialogue (iPods were mentioned).
Greg Barnett, who played the eponymous character, did a good Elvis impersonation, and his well-meaning-but-slightly foolish character was convincing as the breadwinner who finds himself helpless. Barnett told Gulf News tabloid! before the show that, “Fantastic Mr Fox has always been a favourite of mine and when I read Sam Holcroft’s adaptation I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in.” It looks like he made the right decision for his Fox was on point.
His pregnant wife proved a perfect companion, an antidote to his irrepressible pride .
The most fun character to watch was the rabbit — a paranoid, hyper little thing — who jumped from one extreme to the other in a funny, tactless manner.
But let’s not forget the humans. The farmers did a fantastic job of being frustrated, cruel and rather stupid.
The sets were basic as were the costumes, but the Fantastic Mr Fox crew managed to weave a spell that brought alive the story. The forest critters were in parts cunning and innocent, funny and brave, heroic and silly, and you couldn’t help but hope they’d survive the farmers’ onslaught.
The music too was on key — the players, whether they sang a capella or with instruments, didn’t hit a wrong note. The creatures’ getaway song, We’ve got to dig, is still stuck in my head 12 hours later; I’m humming it as I write this up.
Wrapped in a bloody human-eat-animal world, Fantastic Mr Fox had a resonant message: Be yourself, for you are special and indispensable.
I do think the play could have benefitted from being a bit tighter — it stretched on a bit — but if the giggles of the audience were anything to go by, it was well enjoyed.
All-in-all, the story was fun — plus educational and empowering — time out with the kids.