‘Where is Peter Rabbit?’ review

Theatre, Children's
3 out of 5 stars
Where Is Peter Rabbit, 2019
© Steven Barber

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Colourful but messy puppet musical take on Beatrix Potter's beloved stories

While much kids’ theatre is a triumph of imagination over budget, this overcooked mini Beatrix Potter ‘musical’ is kind of the opposite: too much stuff thrown together without enough thought.

Essentially Sheila Carter’s production is a loose compendium of Potter’s stories, framed by a loose narrative about Potter herself (Joanna Brown) going for a wander in her beloved Lake District and becoming embroiled in a quest to track down the eponymous bunny.

It’s a bit random, careening from ‘The Take of Mr Jeremy Fisher’ to ‘The Tale of Mr Tod’ to ‘The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’ to (naturally) ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ without any great logic. Not that this mattered much to the pre-school audience, but there’s a certain thrown-together quality to it all, that belies some relatively big names involved: Griff Rhys Jones and Myleene Klass’s pre-recorded tones narrate the stories, and the lyrics to the (forgettable) songs are written by Alan Ayckbourn. But none of this stardust obviously improves the show.

Undeniably great are the dreamy projections and Rodger Glossop and Caroline Dalton’s plentiful puppets. From Jack Sharp, the stickleback that bothers Jeremy Fisher, to Peter himself, the puppets are inventive and vivid and thoroughly delightful – well, all except for creepy little girl puppet (Lucy, from ‘Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’) and the even creepier human actor wearing a Mr McGregor mask.

Visual inventiveness and the fundamentally appealing nature of the stories themselves keep the show on the road, but the whole show is a near miss at an open goal. Charming enough, but only just.

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