Review 2016: The Rattler at The Anvil

Thank you very much to Rebecca, one of the NHM writers, for her Review today.

Review 2016: The Rattler, Saturday 24th September, Haymarket theatre, Basingstoke.

After enjoying my last trip to the theatre a few months back (my first in over 10 years!) I decided to take the brave decision to drag the entire family along to see The Rattler, a family friendly operatic retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by the Mahogany Opera Group. After a few hiccups (namely getting the time and location wrong) we arrived in a rather stressed out state seconds before the performance began.

Normally in this situation one would be embarrassingly squeezing past rows of people uttering a plenitude of apologies, only heightening the already climatic stress level. (Did I mention my 3 children are all 5 and under!) However, our arrival could not have been further from that reality.

We were greeted by the cast themselves, and invited to join in to what soon became apparent was a parade of children, complete with musical instruments and decorated sticks that had been made in a craft workshop before the show started. They immediately put us at ease, and the energy and enthusiasm of the cast captivated my three boys from the start. It was this energy, along with the clear passion that the cast had in the story, that kept their attention throughout the majority of the Opera.

Even my 5-year-old, who is notoriously hyperactive (he rarely sits still for longer than 10 minutes at a time) managed to stay engaged. In fact, towards the end he was transfixed. It was an easy to follow storyline for the younger audience with interactive singing, an amazingly talented cast and overall a great introduction to Opera.

And it wasn’t just the children who were captivated. I literally could not take my eyes off the puppet ‘The Rattler’. I am in total awe of not only the design of such a puppet that actually gave me nightmares that night!

But I was also blown away by the way that the incredibly talented cast moved him, such that I had to keep reminding myself that he wasn’t real. For me he really did steal the show and hats off to all who were involved in his creation and movement. In the words of my 4-year-old ‘I loved the dinosaur!’

AS I’ve said in previous reviews, live theatre, opera especially is not for everybody. Their aim is not to be universally appealing to the masses. They take risks and sometimes this means alienating some.

I am in no doubt that the risk they took by making the Rattler so eerie will put a few people off. (Although I should mention at this point that the recommended age is 7 and above.)

However, it is when we take risks that remarkable things are achieved and I can wholeheartedly say that The Rattler is nothing short of remarkable. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

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