Hamilton Gardens, Medici Court, Hamilton

20/02/2016 - 28/02/2016

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

The city of Hamilton is a lovely place to live … but not for much longer – the rats are coming!

Will the city be overrun with rodents? These clever, cunning rats fear neither cats nor traps. The community is in despair, until a mysterious man appears, but what is the solution?

Find out in this new play and watch for the twists to this classic tale.

Saturday 20 Feb & Sunday 21 Feb, 10.00am/ 2.00pm         
Saturday 27 Feb & Sunday 28 Feb, 10.00am/ 2.00pm

Medici Court
Gold Coin Donation  
Children’s theatre /Seated/60 minutes 

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

Sat & Sun only

A great offering for families – and anyone

Review by Gail Pittaway 20th Feb 2016

Once again the Stories and More company delights with its interpretation of a well-known children’s story. Their annual pantomime show is a well-established feature of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival. With quirky humour and cast members ranging widely in age and stage experience, they get better every year.

This year they branch away from fairy tales slightly, to adjust the plot of Robert Browning’s narrative poem, ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlin’ to suit the Hamilton setting and audience, with some fun elements of local reference. Bearing remarkably similar elements to real life, the stage town of Hamilton has a female mayor and a council in conflict over finance and ideas of development.

In this story the popular farmers’ market is being plagued by rats and the flatulent rat catcher Mr Whiffy (Owen Mooney) seems incapable of managing the crisis. The council tries a special meeting, holds a referendum and calls for votes for measures to be taken, eventually agreeing to put money into a few desperate schemes.

First Kitty the cat woman, who has 30 cats on her Raglan property, offers the claws of her champion moggy, Fleet foot. Then a couple of scientists invent a huge rat trap, using pulleys and a basket. But both schemes prove inadequate for the infestation of vermin. Cleary it’s time for a little magic realism and the Pied Piper enters the story.

The production is very cleverly written, directed and produced by Cecilia Mooney  and makes full use of the Medici Garden, with its several levels of staging, proximity to the river, for the rats to be removed, and moveable props to set the various scenes such as the farmers’ market stalls.

The sound design (Mel Martin) and operation (Samantha Fowler) is a great bonus for this show, giving appropriate sound signals for characters; including over-the-top flatulence for the rat catcher (which kept many Dads laughing out loud with their kids) and the opening chords of the ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ when the Mayor enters, and appropriate wisps of magical sounds as the recorder-playing Piper lures rats (and others) away. 

The acting is very strong in this production, arising out of clever casting and writing. Missy Mooney’s Mayor is convincingly self-interested, her councillors (Philip Garrity and Hannah Mooney) are consistently in conflict and the citizens, represented by the market stall holders, each have distinct characteristics.

Kitty (Katie Hansen) and the scientists (Nick Hall and Creaghie Beere) each have some great moments of comedy, too, and J T Turner’s Pied Piper is suitably ambiguous as a hero who should not be crossed.

The rats and children are played by a lively troupe of young performers, well-choreographed and rehearsed, so the whole show fits well within an hour’s entertainment, making it a great Hamilton Gardens Festival offering for families and even solo grownups who just want to enjoy pantomime.  


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