”Mog the Forgetful Cat” review – the nation’s favourite feline is prowling stages across the country
And it is sure to bring great joy to those who take in its pleasures. For what the Wardrobe crew have done expertly, in realising that Statler and Waldorf have nothing on a few hundred young children with attention spans that will willingly wander the second things get slow, is to throw invention after invention at it. So we get catchy songs from composer Joey Hickman, flashes of colour in Laura Hickman’s crayon and pencil lite set, Rajiv Pattani’s gently hued lighting and all sorts of delightful controlled chaos.
There is something inevitably a bit episodic about a stage production that takes various tales from Kerr’s book series and brings them together as Mog foils a burglar (we miss out on the cat pun), has to go to the vet for an injured paw and partakes in a cat show in the back garden. They thread the tales with a link to the changing of the seasons as spring turns to summer, and autumn to winter, which is a nice touch but only really embraced in its closing moments.
Each episode in itself offers great fun. Quite often The Wardrobe Ensemble’s work has felt like they are taking connections from the world of movies, and here it reminded me of the great British films of the past. With Max Gallagher tinkling away on the piano, there is something of the early Chaplin offerings in the chase sequences, while the car journey that takes on a radio commentary and the burglar with the clipped accent feels like the Ealing films from the golden age. If children’s books are a gateway to the past, there is something endearingly old-fashioned here.
The show hits its zenith in the chaos of the vets with the actors wearing two-sided costumes as owner and pet blend into one and Mog resolutely refuses to let her paw be looked at, while tigers and crocodiles are conjured up in dreams. The last section looks thin in comparison as Jesse Jones and Helena Middleton’s production runs out of momentum but there is still a lovely ode to the comforts of home and a toilet joke or two to keep things spinning along.
Tom England, as so often the case, is a scene-stealing presence, but it’s Georgina Goodchild’s Mog who inevitably holds the stage, her winning allure and wide eyes conveying why this pussy cat has stolen the hearts of the nation for over fifty years.