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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Little Wolf's Book of Badness
Hampstead Theatre Winter 2007-2008

A charming fable that entertains the under-10s (some well under), Anthony Clark's adaptation of Ian Whybrow's book has enough vitality and invention to be more than bearable for the adults who accompany them.

Little Wolf is an embarrassment to his parents because he's inexplicably good - he says 'please' and brushes his teeth and things like that - so he is sent to his uncle, the notorious Bigbad, for lessons in wolfly badness.

The first act of the stage version follows his epic journey to uncle's and the characters he meets, including a sly fox and a mouse with ambitions to be a bat. Act Two finds him having to cajole and trick his reluctant uncle into lessons in huffing and puffing or such maxims as 'If it squeaks, eat it.'

That girl in the red hood makes an appearance, so annoyingly perky that we find ourselves rooting for Bigbad, while a scoutmaster and his troop offer Little Wolf an alternative model for behaviour, on his way toward deciding not to imitate either the bad or the good, but to be himself.

The kids particularly enjoy young Little's pathetic attempts at growling, the vultures that swoop over the audience's head, and the rather rude noises that emanate from Uncle Bigbad after he's scarfed too many beans.

Adults will appreciate the clever costumes - mainly tails and wolf-shaped baseball caps - along with the several upbeat songs (music by Conor Linehan), the way several in the cast double as musicians, and the general brightness and energy of the performances under Anthony Clark's direction, though they might find the pontificating scoutmaster a bit much and the be-yourself moral rather hurriedly tacked-on.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Little Wolf's Book of Badness - Hampstead 2007