As part of the 100th Birthday celebrations of The Rep, Birmingham is treated to the world premiere of Philip Pullman’s I was a Rat! After this it will embark on a tour of the UK, France and Italy.

This production has many aspects; there is humour, darkness, acrobatic dance, inspired use of lighting and a moral message. There truly is something for the whole family here but at the same time you don’t need to take a child to enjoy it. There are many influences from the Italian inspired costume and Commedia Dell’arte style noses to the music with a gypsy feel to it. This is played by Birmingham band The Destroyers (and at times some of the cast members.)

The story follows a boy who was once a rat. He journeys through his early life as a boy meeting people who want to use him for their own purposes which are not always good.

Children will remember the colourful, almost pantomime style costumes, the unusual music and an engaging story of a boy looking for a happy ending. As an adult, you also take away a moral story about the influences of the press.

Fox Jackson-Keen plays Rodger, the rat boy, with a naive and trusting innocence (and a very acrobatic dance) as he looks for help from Joan (Lorna Gayle) and Bob (Tyrone Huggins) a couple who have been waiting for a purpose to their life. Their scene in the snow storm is particularly heart warming. All other parts, including those of women, are played by five men (Christopher Dingli, Joey Hickman, TJ Holmes, Jack Jones and Dodger Philips) who play some instruments and make sound effects, sometimes in view of the audience. To play so many parts and for each one to be completely different to the last is an incredible skill that is to be applauded.

What better way to celebrate The Rep’s 100th birthday than with this extremely creative and enjoyable family show. A superb evening of entertainment.

Annette Nuttall