What: Footrot Flats
Where: Theatre HB
When: Currently until-December 5, 7.30pm Tickets at iTicket.co.nz
Reviewed by: Keith Russell
For a certain generation one of the building blocks of Kiwiana will always be Murray Ball's very funny cartoon strip Footrot Flats and it would be of no surprise that the first attempt to bring it to life was in the form of a stage show.
While a cartoon is a series of frozen moments the nearest equivalent in the theatre, would have to be a musical where each song becomes a dramatic moment in time.
What serves this show well is the heavyweight creative team of Sir Roger Hall who provides the story structure, A K Grant with his witty, clever lyrics, and Phil Norman's effective country music score.
The whole thing is fast-moving and director Jacquie Hills recognised this and assembled a talented cast that share this vision.
The plot hinges around Wal played with charisma by Glenn Cook and as his girlfriend Cheeky Hobson, Bridie Thomson was a suitably seductive bombshell.
Our other couple need no introduction, Dog played by Michael Sharp captures his energy, offset nicely by the sensual appeal of Hayley Munro as Jess.
Both couples got to sing the main love song We Don't Need Words in an effective and memorable way. Hayley Munro continued her stage presence as Pongo who constantly tricked Dog, with Adrienne Hurley as Aunt Dolly looking and acting as though she had just stepped out of the comic strip.
Jonathan Jordan's rough and tough portrayal of Major the hunting dog was accurate, scaring away any appearance from Murphy's dogs.
He was even more terrifying as the feral cat Horse and you can rest assured there are no rats in this theatre. His change of pace to the stereotypical quiet Kiwi bloke Cooch and his what would now be seen as a conservationist song The Earth We Share was defiantly a show highlight.
A quartet of ewes played by Fay Ferguson, Carol Williams, Hayley Munro and Bridie Thomson are suitably funny and giving us a masterclass in how to exploit every opportunity was Jack Garvey as Prince Charles the Welsh Corgi.
Cecil the Ram played by Peter Berry very nearly stole the show but was upstaged by the frightening seductive Carol Williams as Dolores the Sow.
The magical set was straight out of the comic strip, water tank and all, subtle lighting added to the mood, sound were on their marks and Karyn Glew's costumes contributed to the show's humour.
This is one musical that would not survive elsewhere in the world, it is just too Kiwi.
With a high energy ending, this production's success is best left to the harshest critics of all, the audience and I am sure director Hills was well satisfied to see the happy, smiling patrons as they exited the theatre or should that be, the farm?