Hare and Tortoise review at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford – ‘imaginative storytelling’
Following the success of Pied Piper Theatre’s Burglar Bill last year, this new two hander for very young children follows a similar format. There is little dialogue in Hare and Tortoise, lots of physicality and gentle joking, a neat narrative shape and some catchy songs. And it all sits very happily in the Yvonne Arnaud’s child-friendly studio space.
Catherine Chapman’s designs – flowers, snow, carrots, russet leaves, and more – underpin the seasonal progression, once Tortoise has emerged from hibernation and we await the famous race.
Ebony Feare is a deliciously charismatic tortoise, languorous with an impressive range of reptilian faces and stances and a resonant singing voice. Stefan Stuart’s ever impatient hare, more boyish than leporine, makes for an appropriately lively contrast despite his weaker singing voice.
Tuneful songs and accompanying music range from folk to Mozart, with lots of violin and piano in the backing; the show makes entertaining live use of Feare’s steel pan skills too.
Like most of Tina Williams’ work for the company she founded 30 years ago, Hare and Tortoise is a show full of warmth and charm, which at the opening performance had the school party of five and six year olds, which constituted most of the audience, engaged, gasping and laughing.