‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit’ // Small Crown Productions

‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit’ was impressive.

Tucked away in Seven Hills, the Ron Hurley Theatre came alive this week with Small Crown Productions’ school holiday performances of The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.

The tales of Beatrix Potter have captivated young readers for over a century. Her works and delightful characters have inspired animations, full feature movies and other artworks. The stories feature a cheeky central character of Peter Rabbit and usually focus on his mischievous escapades in the garden of Mr McGregor, who is very fond of rabbit stew. 

The audience entered the theatre to a soundtrack of chirping birds — the stage set with brightly coloured garden beds of lettuce, carrots and flowers surrounded by real bark. Mr McGregor’s Tool Shed stood upstage painted in the iconic blue and white that we associate with the original stories. 

From the moment the actors burst onstage, the audience was in fits of giggles as Peter and his siblings were searching for hiding spots for their game of hide-n-seek. This original script, written and directed by Paul Adams, took the audience through an energetic day in the life of Peter Rabbit.  

As Peter’s mother leaves for the day, Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail are left to do their chores before they can go out and play. For Peter, this inevitably leads to some adventures in Mr McGregor’s garden to nibble on some luscious carrots and crispy lettuce all while trying to make sure he remembers his mother’s instructions about returning home with his brand new blue jacket. Other characters from the original stories are featured too, including Mrs Tittlemouse, Mrs Pickles and Peter’s cousin, Benjamin Bunny. The wild hi-jinx suddenly take a more serious turn when Benjamin is captured by Mr McGregor and Peter needs to make choices about risking his own life to save his cousin. The script is beautifully crafted with characters being clearly drawn and dialogue and themes that are highly relatable for young audiences. 

The design elements of this show were outstanding. The costuming was simply stunning, and the headpieces of the characters were individually crafted works of art. It was incredibly refreshing to see a design that truly understands that costuming for Children’s theatre communicates to the audience important details about the character’s personalities. These beautiful costumes maintained a solid connection to the original storybook characters with a fresh twist, including Peter’s blue jacket adorned with a vibrant sparkly trim. The pieces were functional too, with everyone giggling at the movement of the bunnies’ tails as the actors jiggled away.  

Functionality and design were also perfectly fused in the set pieces and props. Ada Lukin’s fabric creations of vegetables and garden flowers were exceptional – like clipart manifested in textiles. The spacing of the garden beds allowed for bunny parkour in the chase scenes which extended to include the stairs on both sides of the theatre. Nothing says ‘joy’ and ‘fun’ like being surrounded by parkouring laughing rabbits so close to Easter.  

The quality of the acting and directing was sensational.  As Peter Rabbit, Cameron Hurry had the meatiest role to play and his mix of child-like mannerisms, expressive face, and flawless vocal delivery had the audience cheering for his success. His clowning-style antics with cousin Benjamin, played by Tom Pocilujko were highly entertaining, with their synchronised exaggerated movement and impeccable comic timing.  These characters were matched by the energy of Zoe de Plevitz, as Mrs Tittlemouse, who zoomed around the space helping Peter to retrieve his lost jacket as she averted the gaze of the McGregor’s cat from her guard. The cast of five included Eve Conomos who displayed her versatility by playing both the elegant Mrs Bunny and the hyper-vilgilant cat, Mrs Pickles, and Chloe Mandall-Davis as charming little Cottontail. 

This show was a feast of colour and movement. From the giant nets of Mr McGregor swooping to catch an unsuspecting Peter, to the frenetic chase scenes, wild rescue mission of Benjamin and relatable sibling banter, this piece was more than just an hour of smiles. Underneath, there was the warmth of family love, the power of true friendship, the magic of childhood and a sense of playfulness that reminded all of us that life is brimming with adventures just waiting to be had. 

The opportunities in Brisbane for quality Children’s theatre have just substantially increased with the establishment of Small Crown Productions. With an inaugural production of this standard, Small Crown Productions have set the bar high — this company is bound for greatness.

‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit’ plays until April 8, 2023 at the Ron Hurley Theatre in Seven Hills. For more information visit their website.

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