CUNNING FOR GLORY WITH A TWIST IN THE TAIL
When: Saturday, August 18, and Sunday, August 19, 11am and 2pm.
Where: Hymers College grounds, Hull.
Tickets: £9/£6. Family ticket, £25. To book: 01482 323638.
Author: Roald Dahl was born in Wales to Norwegian parents in 1916. He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
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Books: Dahl rose to prominence as a writer in the late 1940s and went on to pen many classic tales for children including James And The Giant Peach, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Matilda.
Unexpected: His short story collection Tales Of The Unexpected was adapted to become a successful TV series of the same name.
As Roald Dahl's classic children's tale, Fantastic Mr Fox, is about to be brought to life in Hull, Ian Midgley meets its youthful cast of badgers, moles and weasels
Y ou've got to feel some sympathy for Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.
The three fox-hating farmers – who, according to Roald Dahl, were: "One fat, one short, one lean. These horrible crooks, so different in looks, were nonetheless equally mean" – are still no nearer snaring their prey.
Ever since Dahl released his classic tale, Fantastic Mr Fox in 1970, the three embittered baddies have been vainly attempting to outsmart its vulpine hero.
Enraged by Mr Fox's tendency to snack on their chickens, ducks and geese, the farmers lay siege to Fox's underground home – threatening the myriad woodland creatures below with certain starvation.
Can Mr Fox use his cunning to overcome the greedy humans?
Madeline O'Reilly, the director of Hull Truck's new adaptation of Dahl's timeless story, says theatre-lovers will soon be able to find out for themselves.
The show, which will be staged for four matinee performances outside Hymers College, on Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19, features 19 members of Truck's youth theatre, all portraying the outlandish – and occasionally grotesque – characters that Dahl was so adept at conjuring.
When we speak, Madeleine, is knee-deep in directing "hippy free-love rabbits, upper crust badgers, chic weasels, underground punky moles and Bohemian foxes" as she puts her youthful cast through their final paces.
"If they say never work with children or animals, there's nothing in theatre folklore about children pretending to be animals", she says with a laugh.
"We've given each animal group its own distinctive look and characteristics," she says.
"The badgers are posh and suited and booted, the rabbits are hippies and the foxes have their own eclectic look – their style is made up of things they've stolen. It's a boho-chic look they own but, you know, foxes are cool, aren't they?
"We're just nailing how the animals move and act.
"The cast are really brilliant. They're so enthusiastic and they just come with so many ideas and as much energy.
"We're really looking forward to staging the show at Hymers again.
"We did Alice In Wonderland there last year and it was a huge success, so it's nice to be going back.
"We'll create our own little stage area outside so people can come along, bring a picnic and just have a great time.
"It's a great show for kids and I think their parents will get a kick out of it, too."
Playwright David Wood's stage adaptation closely follows Dahl's original book, says Madeleine, so banish any ideas of Wes Anderson's recent big- screen animated version of the fox tale, which starred George Clooney as a slightly sardonic, American hipster hero.
"No, we don't have George Clooney," says Madeleine.
"But if you've got his number, I'll send him an invite.
"I think Dahl's stories are as popular now as they've ever been because they're just wonderful tales. They don't talk down to children and they're packed with great characters.
"He doesn't patronise children. His baddies are real baddies, really nasty pieces of work, and that gives the reader something to really root against.
"I think the stage show is exactly the same. The audience will really root for Mr Fox."