Imaginative, witty and beautiful – Seussical will make you feel like a five year old again.
When I walked into the Southwark Playhouse theatre and saw a plethora of bright colours, trees and flowers growing from the walls and stripes galore; I knew that this production of Seussical was going to be something very special indeed.
Seussical was originally conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle and is set in the world of Dr Seuss’ creations. It mostly follows the plot of Horton Hears a Who, in which Horton the Elephant tries to convince the rest of the jungle that there is another world living on a speck of dust. However, the show also features a lot of side plots and slight changes to the original plot of the Dr Seuss story.
This current production was directed by James Tobias with choreography by Chris Whittaker, and what a spectacular show they’ve put together! From beginning to end, I was grinning and laughing throughout. Whether it was the Cat in the Hat interrupting dramatic moments by dancing across the stage with a water gun or just the intelligent lyrical writing which perfectly mimicked Seuss’ famous rhyming writing style. This show is a true spectacle and is the closest I think I’ll ever get to feeling fully immersed into the world of Dr Seuss.
The costume design (Rachel Cartlidge) was one of the most visually exciting elements of this show. Considering that the vast majority of characters are animals of some description, the costumes were very human-like and displayed important character traits. The Whos, for example, had outfits which seemed inspired by the 1950s but were also a bright shade of yellow, showing not only their conformist nature but also allowing them to still seem fully connected to their colourful surroundings. All of the costumes felt very well thought out and allowed the morals of the story to really shine through the performance, as it was easy to relate the stories to real life situations when the characters still looked so much like people. I think this was a very intelligent choice and forced the audience to use their imaginations more – which is exactly how Dr Seuss himself would want it!
The entire cast of this show is wonderful, with every performer being completely committed both in energy and intensity. However it should be noted that the performances of Marc Pickering (Cat in the Hat) and Anna Barnes (JoJo) were outstanding. They led the show superbly, whilst also being able to maintain a positive naivety during moments of conflict. Somehow, every negative situation was given a positive twist by the two characters and nothing felt hopeless, which is the ideal scenario for young children and families.