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Where is Peter Rabbit? review at the Old Laundry – ‘ingenious’

The cast of Where is Peter Rabbit? at the Old Laundry, Bowness-on-Windermere. Photo: Steven Barber

The Old Laundry shares a building with Bowness’ World of Beatrix Potter attraction. To mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth, it has put together a musical adventure linking the tales of Jeremy Fisher, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Mr Tod, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Peter Rabbit. Roger Glossop’s set and Tim Reid’s video are faithful to Potter’s illustrative style. Her iconic characters, almost all in puppet form, are adroitly handled by a vocally and physically adept cast. Miriam Margolyes and Griff Rhys Jones’ voices are skilfully deployed to bring Potter’s words to life. Steven Edis and Alan Ayckbourn’s songs summon up a predominantly pastoral feel for Potter’s world – with the occasional lyrical reminder that some of its inhabitants may end up in a pie.

The first half of the show is a little low-key. Puppets, much narrative, a strong musical element and fidelity to Potter’s originals leads to more atmosphere than action in places. In the latter stages, however, the production comes up with some ingenious ways to engage and excite. The energetic fight between Mr Tod and Tommy Brock is suggested by their effects on the stage furniture, which is semi-collapsed by the puppet handlers as the animals knock into it. At one point, not one but five Mr McGregors (played in masks) scuttle around the auditorium looking for Peter Rabbit.

The cast is well marshalled by director/choreographer Sheila Carter, with some winning energy from Grace Eccle, Danielle Morris, and Molly Waters in particular.

Verdict
Strong production values in an ingenious attempt to bring Beatrix Potter’s tales to the stage

Production Information

Production
Where Is Peter Rabbit?
Venue
Old Laundry
City
Bowness-on-Windermere
Starts
June 27, 2016
Ends
September 4, 2016
Press night
June 27, 2016
Authors
Roger Glossop
Music
Steven Edis
Lyrics
Alan Ayckbourn
Director
Sheila Carter
Musical director
Steven Edis
Choreographer
Sheila Carter
Set
Roger Glossop
Lighting
Jason Taylor
Sound
Samuel Glossop, Andrew Sulley
Costume
Caroline Hughes
Video
Tim Reid
Technical
Tigger Johnson (lighting technician), Alec Lyon (technical manager)
Stage manager
Jeremy Barnaby
Production manager
Ali Fowler
Cast includes
Grace Eccle, Steven Hardcastle, Oliver Mawdsley, Danielle Morris, Katie Shearman, Molly Waters
Casting
Catherine Edis
Producer
Charlotte Scott, Old Laundry
Running time
1hr