Illyria’s immediacy and inventiveness are seen in all their glory in this high octane performance of Dick King-Smith’s popular children’s novel, skilfully adapted for the stage by David Wood.
Illyria debutant Jennifer Ansdell brought just the right amount of perkiness and porkiness to the part of Babe and it is a wise decision by director Oliver Gray for this to be her only role, thus keeping the focus clearly on the hero.
The other 20 parts are shared in an admirable display of versatility by Ffion Glyn, Emma Vickery, Matt Rothwell, Alastair Chisholm and Angela Nesi.
The production may feature animals, but it does not shy away from the unpleasant human characteristics they display, with the host of small children sitting on the grass being slightly intimidated by the bullying puppies, sinister sheep rustlers and the thoroughly intimidating worrier dogs.
Dean Horner deserves great credit for the costumes – the bottle-bottom glasses for the sheep were inspired – and music including guitar, saxophone and piano accordion adds much to the show.
The puppetry of the cockerel, the ducks on wheels and the jollity of the village fair scene, with the front row joining in enthusiastically with hit the rat and hula-hooping, typify the small skilled touches of Illyria’s productions.
The outdoor arena at Lytham Hall can rarely have looked better than on this glorious Sunday afternoon and an enthusiastic audience took the total for this summer’s four productions to over 2000.
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