In a miserable March we all need cheering up and there isn’t anything better than a fun filled fantastic Mr Fox which comes to Milton Keynes Theatre this week. Fantastic Mr Fox is a famous book by Roald Dahl and has now become an all singing and dancing show. It tells the story of Mr Fox, his family and friends and their fight against the farmers.
The farmers are very annoyed that their livestock keeps going missing. Farmer Bean leads Farmer Boggis and Farmer Bunce in a stand-off to save their land. They have a feel of the three stooges about them and throughout the show you get to know a bit more about each of them. Bean, played by Richard Atwill, comes across as very bossy and the leader but secretly he really loves ‘his inner fox’. Richard gives the character authority yet also we have understanding for his plight. Bunce is played by Gruffudd Glyn and his character is not unlike the characters in Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson’s Bottom. Gruffudd gives a great performance and really uses his whole body to express the character. Boggis, played by Raphael Bushay, is a funny, fat farmer who always seems to be eating. At the stakeout, Raphael gets one of the best lines, when Bean says ‘It’s no picnic’, Boggis says ‘actually it’s a bit like a picnic’ whilst eating again with a brilliant delivery of comic timing. Together the three make a considerable effort to capture Mr Fox and his friends.
Of course, the show is called Fantastic Mr Fox and this is with good reason. Mr Fox is played by Greg Barnett and he really is an all singing, all dancing fox. Greg is extremely likeable and delivers wonderful fox mannerisms; he is excitable and a little proud and arrogant. Mr Fox has a wife, called Mrs Fox (who knew?!). She is played by Lillie Flynn and with her stunning voice really brings something to the show. They also have a daughter called Kit, played by Jade Croot, who is the perfect rebellious daughter who liked her electronic gadgets.
Fox also looks after his friends and he is popular. Badger, played by Raphael Bushay (yes, all the farmers play two parts and are wonderful in both) is dependable and reliable. Rabbit is played by Sandy Foster and was totally indispensable! Her energy is just like a Duracell bunny and she is bouncing all around the stage, loud, friendly and has a rabbit toy (a cuddly one!) but the implications give the adults in the audience a good laugh. Mole is played by Gruffudd Glyn and is excited about his rock collection. Mouse is played by Kelly Jackson and she sings about cheese. Kelly demonstrates her range of talents including singing, dancing and swinging her tail and is adorable as the mouse.
During the show, Mr Fox bumps into Rat. Rat is a drunk who loves to eat but is a little selfish and doesn’t like to share his food. He is played by Richard Atwill and he gives the character a real ratty character that you are just not sure of. That’s exactly how humans feel about rats. They carry germs but some people keep them as pets. It’s a love/hate relationship and Richard certainly brings this to the role. At the start of the second act we are treated to birds singing. Not birds in tree tops but birds with microphones. It is a brilliant twist on the idea of birds singing.
The outfits are modern, so if you are expecting fur you may be disappointed. The Fox family are tracksuits in a bright orange. Mouse wears a grey bobbly dress, Mole is almost an airman in a boiler suit and protective headwear. Badger looks like a referee and Rabbit is ready for the Gym.
The show is extremely funny and suitable for adults and children alike. This is not just a kids show – it’s an extravaganza of fun, with a story of well-defined characters and a story of friendship. Fantastic Mr Fox is absolutely fantastic!
Showing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 11 March.