That Pesky Rat

Based on the book by Lauren Child, adapted by Jonathan Lloyd
Soho Theatre
(2006)

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That Pesky Rat is a new production based on the well-loved and award-winning book of the same name by Lauren Child, and once again the Soho shows that, whatever the genre, it couldn't put a foot wrong if it tried.

The rodent of the title lives at Bin Number 3 in an alley overlooked by the penthouse homes of more well-favoured animals. That Pesky Rat (named by the passers by his alleyway home) is allowed to go over and play with Pierre the Chinchilla, Oscar the Siamese cat, and Andrew the Scottie, but at the end of the day he must return to his bin and dream of one day being a pet with a name and an owner of his own.

But through a series of musical numbers which parents and children alike will love, Rat learns that life isn't a bed of roses for even the most pampered of pets. Pierre has to endure the indignities of having his coat blow-dried, Oscar is left alone by the busy master he pretends to loathe but really yearns for, and even Nibbles the glamorous circus rabbit suffers from stage fright and longs for retirement. Is being a pet really all it's cracked up to be? But there is a place for everyone, we learn: short-sighted Mr Fortescue has been looking for a lovely brown cat with a pointy nose for a long, long time, and the kindly pet-shop owner isn't going to set him straight...

The four-strong cast bring this heart-warming, hilarious tale to life through brilliant pupeteering, original music by Kenny Mellman and understated, empathetic performances from the humans on stage. Celia Meiras' performance as Rat is particularly touching, and Michael Matus' Pierre, Oscar and Andrew ensure the puppets run away with the show as intended.

That Pesky Rat is enormous fun, and also provides a gentle reminder to both children and parents getting ready for Santa that not everyone is quite so lucky at this time of year. A perfect show for all the family to laugh and sing along with, while also getting into the real spirit of Christmas. Yet another home-grown triumph for the Soho.

Until 7 January 2007

Reviewer: Louise Hill