Director: Wendy Harris
Writer: Brendan Murray
Music: Dom Sales
Reviewer: Rosie Revell
The Public Reviews Rating:
Writer, Brendan Murray and Tutti Frutti have transformed the few lines of the fable into an intimate, enchanting and colourful work that will truly delight children over 3 and big kids like myself.
The small Studio set is transformed into winter and we are immediately transformed to the world of the Hare and the Tortoise. All six foot three of Hare (Barnaby Southgate) waits impatiently for his smaller, slower, friend, Tortoise (Luisa Guerreiro) to wake from winter hibernation so they can race. Southgate is engaging and endearing as he tries to rouse Tortoise. Guerreiro’s tortoise is all of four foot nine and is wonderfully colourful. She is a joy to watch, especially as she wakes, as her comically expressive face takes time to take in the world she has woken up in.
Both performers should be commended for their physicality and singing. The contrast in their heights is exploited beautifully to comic and theatrical effect.
The songs and incidental music by Dom Sales suit Hare and Tortoise really well with just the right amount of repetition for younger audience members.
Tortoise responds patiently to Hare’s demands for a race like any parent would, with a steady “maybe later”. Hare is understandably frustrated but waits and as he waits the seasons pass magically around him.
Tortoise, through the course of the play, teaches Hare many valuable lessons such as appreciating the world around them by planting carrots and going on a picnic and playing tennis. Tortoise will only consent to race when Hare can wait a whole minute and so Hare has to wait. The movement through the seasons is thoroughly enjoyable and is a satisfactory build up to the big race.
The moral is not only a lesson for Hare but all children: “You can’t be sure of anything, ever…anything can happen,” says Tortoise.
Designer Catherine Chapman’s visuals through the season changes are a real treat for young children. In Spring, off comes Hare’s scarf and leaves are placed on a bare white tree. Blossom is scattered and flowers grow. In the summer, these leaves become butterfly wings. Autumn is dance of fallen leaves. Winter may be bare but such as the magical nature of the show that the children audibly gasp in delight as the fairy lights are left twinkling, snowflakes are scattered and Tortoise returns to hibernation.
Tutti Frutti have once again created a show that children and accompanying adults alike will adore. It is beautiful to look at, but visually witty too. The dialogue is playful, meaningful and strikes just the right balance by being not too simple or too hard for the young audience.