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I Was A Rat review - Birmingham Rep

I Was A Rat,

I Was A Rat,

Birmingham Rep

BIRMINGHAM Rep celebrated its century last Saturday with a gala performance of a production that all the family should enjoy.

Returning to the Old Rep, the venue where it all began in 1913, the theatre has chosen a Philip Pullman story for its anniversary show.

Adapted by Solihull’s David Watson, I Was A Rat is the tale of a boy who turns up on a couple’s doorstep and declares he was, until rather recently, rodent.

It’s one part Oliver Twist, another Cinderella, as the likeable lad - who has an unfortunate tendency to chew things - attempts to discover how be became human.

Seventeen-year-old Fox Jackson-Keen is excellent in the leading role, performing tumbles, somersaults and rolls which would stretch Olympic gymnast Louis Smith.

But it’s a tough world for the loveable innocent, who not only has to fight temptation to shred his bed, but finds himself at the mercy of some rather unsavoury characters.

Among them a cruel circus boss, a gang of Artful Dodger-esque thieves and the reporters of the Daily Scourge - a paper whose ethics would give Lord Leveson a thing or two to chew over.

I wasn’t immediately taken with the spartan set design, but the way a snowstorm, a courtroom and a dozen other locations are conjured from the black is remarkable.

And I can’t think of a better show to encourage youngsters to return to the theatre, which is surely the secret to the success of a venue which has lasted 100 years.

Until March 2.

David Irwin.

 

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