The Unicorn (venue)
26 November 2019 (released)
26 November 2019
The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse is currently being performed at the Unicorn Theatre in Southwark by New Perspectives, an East Midlands based touring theatre company. It is aimed at 3 to 7 year olds and lasts just under one hour.
The play has been adapted by Jack McNamara from the book of the same name by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. There are embellishments - notably the addition of a Fly and lots of music and a script which appeals not only to the target audience but at another level to accompanying adults.
The Wolf who is played by Catherine Whitefield has swallowed the Mouse whole. Inside the Wolf”s belly he meets the Duck who has also at some earlier time been swallowed whole. ‘I may have been swallowed but I have not been eaten”
The Duck has set up home inside the Wolf and agrees to share the space with the Mouse to relieve his boredom. They celebrate their new friendship with a dance which causes the Wolf to have a stomach ache and to moan. This attracts the attention of two hunters who eventually shoot but miss the Wolf.
The resulting shock and upset cause the inhabitants of the Wolf’s belly to be regurgitated and offered a chance to return to their former existence outside. Instead they decline and choose to return to the safety of the Wolf”s stomach where nothing more can harm them, they argue ,because the worst has already happened .
The adapted play seems to be an amalgamation of Red Riding Hood and I Know An Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly with a rather strange message of comfort that once ones most dreadful fears having been realised life turns out to be so bad after all. Is there a Brexit subtext here?
The cast of three play all the many parts - owls, trees, hunters, a fly as well as the three main characters with great pantomime gusto. The somewhat strange casting of having the Mouse, Varun Raj, and the Duck, Sam Buttery, twice the size of the Wolf who had swallowed them puzzled me but did not seem to bother the children in the audience. It may have been a deliberate attempt to soften the potentially frightening aspect of a wolf. There were several girls in the audience sobbing in terror anyway but there were others who were much more robust and shouted replies to questions with answers that necessitated fast ad-libbing by the cast.
The Duck Mouse and the Wolf were all excellent. The set was very faithful to the book- simple effective and beautiful. My only real criticism was that the duck could have been more duck like in appearance, the mouse more mouselike and the wolf more wolf like and scary but I suspect that children have more imagination than me.
I would recommend this show to any child unafraid of wolves and with a prior reading of the book.