REVIEW: Fantastic Mr Fox, Nuffield Southampton Theatre

By Gareth Newnham

I’VE been trying to think of a word that adequately sums up this adaptation of Roald Dahls beloved children’s classic, but it escapes me. Let’s just say it’s was extraordinary, imaginative and fanciful.

Commissioned for the Roald Dahl centenary celebrations, Sam Holcroft’s new musical adaptation of Fantastic Mr Fox effortlessly captures the anarchic fun of the original 1970 children’s book, while successfully adding to the source material in meaningful ways yet still feels authentic.

Greg Barnett's performance as Mr Fox was pitched perfectly, capturing the cockiness and over confidence of the Fantastic Fox while adding a certain vulnerability to the character which was lacking in Dahl’s original. It is facilitated by a script which makes Fox’s lack of a tail an actual problem for him rather than a knock to his pride.

Lillie Flynn does a wonderful job as the long suffering, and heavily pregnant Mrs Fox. The role has been greatly expanded to make her a much more interesting character who is more than a match for her cock sure husband.

The real stars of the show though were Boggis (Rapheal Bushay), Bunce (Gruffudd Glyn) and Bean (Richard Atwell)- the three nasty farmers hell-bent on killing Fox and getting their valley back. Every scene of the three’s stooge- like antics, as they bicker in the woods while their hatred for Fox turns into an obsession, is a delight.

Tom Scutt's ingenious rotating set designs add a sense of pace and verticality to scenes while enabling the actors to smoothly transition from one role to another as Badger and Mole are also played by Rapheal Bushay and Gruffudd Glynn respectively.

Arthur Duval’s original songs provide superb punctuation to the show's set pieces, from Fox's rallying cry for the animals to dig, to the Farmers singing about how awful they are in the opening. Each adds something extra special to an already delightful romp.

Fantastic Mr Fox is a 'wondercrump' romp that will delight both kids and adults alike and have them 'churgling' from start to 'splendiferous' finish!

Fantastic Mr Fox runs until January, 8