The Hundred and One Dalmatians at Birmingham Rep

This Christmas season Birmingham Rep presents 101 Dalmatians, a heart-warming story about a family that wants nothing more than to be reunited for the holidays. An evil Cruella De Vil steals the loveable puppies of Pongo and Missis to make herself a Dalmatian puppy coat, however with the help of some unlikely friends Pongo and Missis fight for their family.

The first question I think everybody wanted to know was how were 101 dogs going to be portrayed on stage, was there going to be people in dog costumes or was it just going to be implied but never shown. Instead the Rep teamed up with the incredible puppetry designer, Jimmy Grimes, to create some of the most amazing dog puppets, each one a masterpiece. However, the incredible cast who operate these puppets are the true artists that bring them to life with such skill, that the audience are instantly drawn into the story, sometimes even forgetting that they are not real dogs.

Although all the cast was incredible, there are definitely some outstanding performances that steal the show. Jasper played by Lewis Griffin and Saul played by Luke Murphy who are Cruella’s henchmen have the audience in fits of giggles as soon as they are on stage and sometimes even off stage. They played the “Badduns” perfectly mixing with comedy with the dark story line of the fur trade. All the way through 101 Dalmatians there is mixture of light hearted to very dark moments in which sometimes do push the limits for a family friendly show. However, just when the story is getting too dark, there is always some moment of joy to lift the spirits again.

The entire show is accompanied by live music that brings a key element to the story telling process, as well as adding in a few musical numbers here and there. Saying that, at a few moments throughout the show the music did get a little too loud and some of words were lost, yet with the brilliant idea of having the captioned performances the audience weren’t completely lost for what was being said.

101 Dalmatians is the perfect Christmas show for all the family, with enough laughs and silliness to keep the little ones happy all holiday season.     ★★★★★    Georgina Randall   6th December 2016

Photo by Graeme Braidwood