Reviewed by Catherine Brown
Based on the classic animated film, ‘The Hundred and One Dalmatians’ has arrived at Birmingham Repertory Theatre as their Christmas production. The show is Debbie Isitt’s version of the magical tale originally written as a book by Dodie Smith.
Mr and Mrs Dearly are a young couple excited by the news that their Dalmatians Pongo and Missis are expecting puppies. Even more thrilled is Cruella de Vil, played by Gloria Onitiri, who is desperate to have the dog’s skins for a new fur coat. When the young puppies vanish, thanks to Cruella’s sons the Badduns, dogs all around the country join forces to use their ‘Twilight bark’ to attempt to track the animals down in time for a Christmas homecoming.
The actors are supported by clever puppetry to represent the dogs, with lots of nuzzling noses and wagging tails. Although the puppeteers are on stage, the lighting is cleverly focused onto the animals, so you barely notice the humans are there. The magical tale is mainly told through action and dialogue although there are a few songs woven into the story.
The audience were transported through a rollercoaster of emotions – love for the pups, terror of Cruella and giggles at the antics of Jasper & Saul Baddun. Some younger children sat near to us appeared frightened by Cruella so you may want to be aware of this before your visit. There were plenty of smiles too though – my favourite moments were the slapstick comedy from Jasper & Saul although I also enjoyed the sheepdog who was part of the rescue team.
The theatre is in the heart of Birmingham in Centenary Square; we found driving there easy and parked at the Brindley Place car park, although there are also bus and train stations nearby. The staff at the REP were very helpful and friendly. There was a good range of drinks and ice cream available at the interval along with 101 Dalmatians merchandise. The seats were comfortable with plenty of leg room and there were lots of clean toilets which avoided the chance of large queues.
I would recommend this show to audiences of all ages, definitely worthy of a 5 out of 5 rating. I was captivated by the magic and left the theatre feeling very Christmassy!
Tickets cost from £15 (booking/transaction fees may apply).
The Hundred and One Dalmatians is at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 30 November 2017 to 13 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk or call the box office on 0121 236 4455.
Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EP