I Want My Hat Back
Little Angel Theatre
I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of Jon Klassen's Hat trilogy. They might be sold as books for children, but, in addition to being beautiful picture books, there is a touch of brilliance that's difficult to explain in these fun and slightly mischievous stories.
Ian Nicholson for Little Angel has taken the first of these stories, I Want My Hat, and translated it verbatim into an eight-and-a-half-minute puppet show that nods to the current pandemic lockdown but has production values that aren't at all restricted by it. Samuel Wilde has designed a beautiful paper and cardboard theatre, complete with curtains, which provides the stage for simple cut-out puppets that copy exactly the character designs from Klassen's book. Nicholson manipulates these puppets from behind while telling the story and providing all the character voices.
The story is of a well-mannered bear who has lost his lovely red hat. He asks all of the animals he comes across, one at a time, whether they have seen it, but they all say they haven't. Just as he starts to think he will never see it again, he suddenly realises something about what he saw earlier—something we have been shouting at the screen for the last few minutes. Of course it has a happy ending—well, perhaps not for everyone...
It's a great story that looks wonderful even on a small screen and is told well. Personally, I would tighten up some of the gaps to make it flow a bit more smoothly, but then this is aimed at ages 3 to 6, and it's a few decades since I fell into that category.
This is a great little piece, well-produced in spite of lockdown conditions, that is worth eight and a half minutes of anyone's time (it's only available until 11AM on 27 April), then go out and buy the books—for your children, of course.
Reviewer: David Chadderton