The Mouse and his Child - RSC Stratford on Avon

By IH Friday 30 November 2012 Updated: 30/11 10:01

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Buy photos » Bettrys Jones (Child) and Daniel Ryan (Mouse). (s)

The Mouse and his Child



THE RSC just might have another Matilda on their hands. Their latest Christmas production is going to put a smile on the face of many - young and old alike.

Russell Hoban's classic cult children's novel is brought to wonderous life on stage by director Paul Hunter, with the help of an inspired cast, and equally inspired backstage crew.

For the overall look imagine quirky film director Tim Burton teaming up with Charles Dickens. It's all a little bit sinister, inventively employing everything from silhouette to puppetry, and with a suitably grotesque collection of characters, none more so than king rat Manny - Fagin incarnate with a little bit of Hitler thrown in for bad measure.

The goodies versus baddies plot follows the fortunes of a clockwork mouse and his child as they embark on a perilous journey to return to the toy shop, having been bought, and then broken and discarded by ungrateful children at Christmas.

Along the way there's a unicycle riding monkey, a roller-skating elephant, and a saxophone playing seal. There's also a trippy hippy Californian fortune-telling frog, a Geordie parrot who delivers one of the night's best gags, and a couple of avant-garde crows looking to put on a show.

Music is joyously supplied on stage by a drunken brass band of tramps - who even set the scene pre curtain-up with a few off-key carols - and there's an infectious dance routine to Soul Bossa Nova (known to most as the Austin Powers theme).

The humour, like that of Matilda, and The Simpsons, skillfully works on both a child and adult level, and while kids like a laugh, equally they love a fright, and judging by the reaction of the school party in the front row to the arrival of the rat gang, this production certainly does the trick.

To coin a cliché, it's all fantastic family fun, and like Matilda, these clockwork mice and their pals could well have a life beyond the closing of the toy shop on January 12, but in the meantime, to almost coin another cliché, beg, borrow or even buy a ticket.

The Mouse and his Child runs at the RST until January 12. Visit for tickets and further details.

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Buy photos» Michael Hodgson (Manny). (s)

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