Review – Tabby McTat at The Everyman Theatre

Review by Nigel Smith

Tabby McTat, based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, is visiting the Everyman this week as part of an extensive national tour.

The story is narrated by Samuel Spratt, who brings three friends onto the stage to help him tell the tale. Wearing a variety of hats to determine who is who, the four actors take turns to play all the parts, turning the act of acting into a game in itself.

Tabby is a busker’s cat, who becomes separated from his friend Fred and, in his search to find him, he meets up with another cat, Sock, with whom he has three kittens. One of these turns out to be Samuel, who has a meeee-ew that could shatter glass. In itself the story is a simple one that could be told in minutes, so the show relies on repetition and reinforcement alongside a series of games, punctuated by a lot of fun-filled musical numbers that get the children involved.

Looking around the audience, it’s easy to pick out which of the children are familiar with the story, as they are more than happy to join in with the fun. At the performance I was invited to attend there was also a large group of theatre students in the house, who also got very involved and, along with the children, were still performing the actions on their way out.

Luke Rees-Oliviere predominantly plays Samuel Spratt, and his microphone is cunningly tuned to ensure that his voice is more shrill and dominant than the others, something that is perplexing until the story tells us the reason why. It’s a nice touch to have him singing completely out of key at the appropriate moments when in fact he, along with the other three performers, has an excellent voice.

This is sweet, engaging storytelling that will appeal in particular to very young children, played out in very simple fashion on a set made up mostly of two stepladders and a painted sheet. Running at a compact 1 hour it doesn’t stretch young attention spans either, and certainly manages to hold the attention throughout.

After this week at the Everyman, Tabby McTat continues his journey on tour countrywide with dates up to December.

Rating: 3 Stars