Honk! The Ugly Duckling - 8 January 2000

Honk! the Ugly Duckling is an absolute treat and Honktastic!! The National Theatre ensemble perform this traditional tale with enthusiasm and exuberance. The show is colourful, imaginative and extremely good fun for both cast and audience. The stage is depicted as the end of the lake with rushes either side. The performers were not dressed as animals but their clothing colours and proportions indicated the animal they were i.e. the ducklings had bright yellow dungarees and t-shirts with bright orange Doc Marten boots, the drake was white with a black leather jacket, orange boots but his cap was green with an orange peek, the swans were white with black boots and white caps with pink peeks. It required the use of the imagination which some children near us had obviously never used before !!! All the company performances were excellent but if I did have to mention some specifically it would be David Burt's 'ladies man' drake, Beverly Klein's 'every loving mother duck' Ida, Gilz Terera's 'gangly, innocent and naive' Ugly, Jasper Britton's 'old style baddy' cat, David Bamber's 'old school military' Greylag Goose and David Burt's 'stand up comic' Bullfrog. While mentioning Bullfrog mention must be made of the whole company dressed in green tutu's for the froglet dance in the 'Warts and All' number, certainly a funny sight ! and he 'Goose' bomber sequence must also have a mention. The characters list could go on but other stand out ones included Leigh McDonald's 'Queenie the cat and Sara Powell's 'exercise mad' Maureen Moorhen. Every character had an individuality about them but there are too may to describe.

George Stiles score is ideal for this show with memorable tunes such as 'Poultry tale of folk down on the farm, Joys of Motherhood, Hold your Head up High and Warts & All. The book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe are very witty and the story moves swiftly along at a lively pace.

If there is one Christmas show to see make it Honk! It is as simply staged as Lion King is lavishly staged but is just as effective and I would say it has one thing which the Lion King hasn't quite got - a heart.

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