Where Is Peter Rabbit? at Theatre Royal Haymarket
Set designer and deviser Roger Glossop brings Beatrix Potter’s much-loved tales of wild animals to life in Where Is Peter Rabbit?, a mixture of puppetry, song, dance and story, with the voices of Griff Rhys Jones and Miriam Margolyes.
First performed in 2016 celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter at the Old Laundry Theatre at the heart of Lake District, this West-End production is aimed principally at very young audiences – three and above. Joanna Brown plays the Victorian writer and naturalist, who first introduced the world to her stories over a century ago. As we see Mr Jeremy Fisher attempting to catch some minnows for his dinner party, a huge trout swallows the frog – but fortunately only digests his galoshes – and the magic comes to life. The cast of five expertly weave the animals, some of which are attached to the actors’ feet, creating fluidity in performance, where the puppets are anthropomorphised into being.
Though Peter Rabbit is the most famous bunny in the world, in Glossop’s production the characters of Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Tommy Brock the badger, and Mr Tod the fox stand out. Through Grace Osborn’s duck and prickly hedgehog, the animated actions of the animals portray Potter’s book illustrations; Jemima is flighty and nervous, looking for a safe place to lay her eggs, while Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s homely nature is apparent through Osborn’s inflections and Margolyes’s narration, the hedgehog’s eyes going twinkle twinkle and her cute little nose sniffling as she does the laundry. Matthew Whitby’s crafty fox is presented brilliantly, as as his depiction of Mr McGregor the gardener, who tries to safeguard his lettuces from hungry rabbits.
The show does contain some darker moments – McGregor’s mask can be frightening for young viewers – but scary scenes are kept mostly at bay from the very young audience, who are captured by the life-size models. As with such a young crowd, there is some restlessness, and the sound requires improvement so that all can be heard over the rustling and talking. The revolving screen at the back illustrates the changing scenery so recognisable of Potter’s Lake District, where she spent most of her adult life, and overall the production is an imaginative and cosy adaptation of the English writer’s books so known and loved the world over.
Photo: Steve Barber
Where Is Peter Rabbit? is at Theatre Royal Haymarket from 5th until 28th April 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Where Is Peter Rabbit? here: