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Review - Hilarious Revolting Rhymes

Photos: Nelle Lee and Leon Cain play Ugly Sisters while Nelle dons the Big Bad Wolf's skin.

Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts

Adapted by shake & stir from Roald Dahl’s stories

Directed by Ross Balbuziente

shake & stir Theatre Company and La Boite co-production

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove


Brisbane season: July 4-11. Bookings: or on (07) 3007 8600.

How do you know when a show aimed at

children is a smash hit? First hint is a theatre packed to the gills and the second is when adults and kids alike cheer and stamp their feet at the end.

So it was at the reprise season of shake&stir’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts at La Boite theatre. The obvious anticipation was there when the techno music was thumping out as the audience filed into their seats and the littlies were kicking their legs in time to the beat.

The show is currently on a sell-out tour and is back in Brisbane for just a week before heading off again, so grab your chance while you can.

I saw the show in January last year and said: “Whatever you do, make your kids take you along to see this 65 minute express-train of a show - and if you can’t - go on your own. It is billed as a show for kids of all ages, but on opening night there were more adults than tots and they laughed just as hard as the youngsters. In fact it was one long laugh session. I had a ball.”

I say exactly the same this time round. The repeat season has lost nothing of its high energy, great characterisations and above the joyful glee of the performers. Once again I had a ball and was thoroughly entertained.

The show is performed by Leon Cain, Judy Hainsworth, Nelle Lee, and Nick Skubij who have a close rapport which helped to create lightning fast scene and costume changes.

One minute they could be an Ugly Sister - or a bear - and the next a wolf, a pig or even a crocodile, toad or snail. Nothing fazed them. Director Ross Balbuziente’s direction had lost nothing in the passing time and he kept his actors right on the frenetic pace.

And, as for the stories, nothing was sacred. The tales were twisted and changed, and hilariously so. Did Cinderella really marry a prince and what was the true fate of the Ugly Sisters? How did Goldilocks end up when she broke into the house of the Three Bears and stole the porridge?

And how truly cool was the pistol packing momma Little Red Riding Hood? She was a little bit murderous and had a penchant for wolf skin jackets.

As usual with modern children’s entertainment there was plenty of fart, bum and burp jokes, bloodthirsty animals who like to eat people, and people who like to eat bits of people as well as animals. So there was plenty of comic violence, tastefully done of course.

We saw a whacky Cinderella story with a happy ending – for some; there was the story if the pig who believed in doing unto others as they would unto you – only doing it first and a Snow White story – including the seven dwarves and the rest of the story’s characters. I won’t even hint as to how the quartet got round that one! Needless to say it was clever and hilarious – and there was a great magic mirror that shone a new image over the tale.

Then we watched Jack and his mother climb the beanstalk in search of gold.

And who would believe Red Riding Hood would step into the story of the Three Little Pigs? But she did and with some dire consequences.

All the action took place on a revolving rotunda, designed by Josh McIntosh that had trapdoors, side doors and all manner of clever little gimmicks that helped to speed the show along.

The actors switched characters, costumes – and even accents - in the blink of an eye. They never slipped on some, pretty tongue twisting at time, lines and obviously were enjoying themselves as much as the audience did.

There were songs and dances, fights and fracas, madness and mayhem, all played before some dazzling lights and laser effects from Jason Glenwright’s great lighting plot. Oh and in the program is a personal cut-out Little Pig mask and lots of puzzles and colouring in pictures! It all added to the fun.

Nelle Lee and Judy Hainsworth relax after the performance.

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