low res Carla Mendon+ºa as Cruella De Vil 2 Image Farrows Creative

101 Dalmations. The Tobacco Factory

Dodie Smith’s much beloved children’s story about spotty dogs, evil furriers and more puppies than you can throw a stick for has captured the hearts of millions. It may seem then a daunting task to bring 101 Dalmatians to the stage in a whole new theatrical and musical edition, besides attempting the feat with a cast of five.

It need not be a concern however, as under Sally Cookson’s careful direction and the Travelling Light Theatre Company’s propensity for original and greatly entertaining productions, the cast took the madcap story under their belts, bringing belly laughs to a whole litter of theatre goers. The production was a deliciously dark retelling, set to a toe-tapping doo-wap/synth live music score with enough jeopardy and laughs to make even the grouchiest old dog smile.

Particularly impressive were the tricky role changes (a clever nod to Smith’s theory that dogs and their owners look alike), as awkward mathematician Mr Dearly (a laugh out loud Tristan Sturrock) became dappy dog Pongo, and Mrs Dearly transformed into her clumsy pet Perdita-played sweetly by Lucy Tuck-without ever dropping out of character.

There were also boos and hisses aplenty for the demonic diva Cruella De Vil (a sultry Carla Mendonça) prompting a few fantastic heckles from children in the audience.

One who particularly stood out was Felix Hayes, who leapt between the most disturbingly funny furrier, dim-witted hitman, roly-poly puppy and maternal cow with seemingly no effort.

With plenty of bottom-sniffing, silliness and capering, the show is a must see for a heart-warming Christmas evening. You may even find yourself pining for a pup of your own.

Sophie Jones 4 Stars

The play continues until 11th January 2015

For details visit: http://www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com/ Pics by Farrows Creative

low res Lucy Tuck as Mrs Dearly and Tristan Sturrock as Mr Dearly Image Farrows Creative