Fantastic Mr Fox is clever and charming


Roald Dahl’s tale of a feisty fox who outwits three nasty farmers has been loved by generations of children for 40 years.

Turned into an acclaimed animated movie last year, the story has been inventively adapted by Islington’s puppet theatre with original songs and a fabulous multi-level set that lets us follow the burrowing animals as they flee the farmers’ mechanical diggers.

Little Angel are not only experts at simple storytelling, but excel at quirky moments that delight children and appeal to their sense of humour. There’s also bags of charm here to please the adults.

Boggis, Bunce and Bean are thoroughly vicious sorts and make great baddies to unite against as they lie in wait for the marauding Mr Fox and shoot off his tail.

The fox family go to ground and the farmers first try to dig them out with spades, then diggers, destroying the countryside and threatening all the underground animals with starvation.

Of course the clever fox comes up with a splendid plan to burrow beneath their farms and take enough food for his family and friends.

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The three little foxes jive and sing on their way to Boggis’ chicken house, where the birds perform twirls like a synchronised swimming team.

When they enter Bean’s cider cellar, the puppeteers venture through the darkened auditorium where the drunken rat rails at them from the end of the seat rows.

And the feast of food is shipped out of Bunce’s giant storehouse on a Generation Game-style conveyer belt, complete with glitter ball lighting effect.

The four multi-talented puppeteers do great work, voicing the characters, singing in harmony and operating at the same time.

Bridget Galton

Until November 7 at the Little Angel but Hampstead and Highgate residents can catch it at Jacksons Lane in Archway Road from December 4 to 31.