Children's Books

Things your Mother would not approve of

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A box of Things! The Cat in the Hat (Jaques de Silva). Photograph courtesy of the National Children’s Theatre.

THERE’S NOTHING QUITE like an errant cat, in a hat, to stir up a little madcap naughtiness when mother is out on a rainy day and there’s nothing else to do. The National Children’s Theatre hosts Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat for little kids, from the age of about 3 – but toddlers of about 18 months rocked through the performance under review – through December, and adhering to the original National Theatre of Great Britain adaptation, this is a work heavy on physical theatre and light on text that will have your toddler laughing in paragraphs.

And it’s a well known tale. The cat in question (Jaques de Silva) pops into the room with his brolly and his hat, his grin that’s big enough to fill the whole stage, a bag of tricks and a box of things. To the utter horror of the fish (Lesego Molotsi), who is a hilarious little hapless voice of conscience, all havoc breaks out.  But no harm is done.

It’s a beautiful little show in which illusion and drawing cohere to form a strong and believable set, and a simple tale is cast with legibility and a great sense of fun to its young audiences. Both Tiago Do O’Filipe and Kefilwe Gaborone as the two children, are fantastically cast. They have an understanding of the need to create bold and clear facial and bodily expressions, while they hold onto the identity of being a little girl and a little boy beset by fantasy creatures.  While in the height of the havoc, the “things” in question become a little too much like ordinary children screeching and being naughty than the kind of things that Dr Seuss penned, there’s a bright clarity to this piece which is completely endearing.

De Silva is a fantastic cat. He’s got empathy for the role, cat-like elasticity and interacts with the audience enticingly. But it’s his smile which keeps the mischief afloat and takes complete charge.

  • Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat is directed by Jaques de Silva, Ryan Dittmann and Jenine Collocott. Based on the eponymous book by Dr Seuss and adapted for stage by Katie Mitchell, it is performed by Jaques de Silva and Lesego Molotsi with a child cast comprising Zynub Cajee, Kefilwe Gaborone, Simone Greehy, Amber Kaganzon, Deonez Mandtoumbi, Sashin Nagoor, Lwazi Ntombela, Tiago Do O’Filipe, Farah Seria and Jesse Vermeulen. Featuring design by Stan Knight (set), Jane Gosnell (lighting), Sarah Roberts (costumes), Yogin Sullaplen (sound and effects), it is stage managed by Babs Sewbaran and performs at the Wynnstay Theatre, National Children’s Theatre complex in Parktown, until December 22.
  • This review is premised on performances by Kefilwe Gaborone, Simone Greehy, Deonez Mandtoumbi, Sashin Nagoor, Lwazi Ntombela and Tiago Do O’Filipe.
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