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Honk! The Ugly Ducking

Now the Ensemble are performing "Honk! The Ugly Duckling" and I am pleased to say that it is a terrific show.  Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, with music by Geogre Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drew, this production is directed by Julia McKenzie.

With a simple set of a farmyard duckpond surrounded by bullrushes, the cast ake the roles of the farm animals. There are no fancy "Lion King"-style masks or costumes, the four ducklings wear bright yellow dungarees and t-shirts, with even brighter orange Dr Martin boots.  "Ugly" (played by Gilz Terera)is a gangly boy in boring grey school uniform. complete with obligatory sticking plaster on his knee.

The story is of Drake (David Burt) and Ida (Beverley Klein) who are disappointed with the fifth member of their newly-hatched brood. After suffering humiliation and ridicule from the rest of the farmyard inhabitants, he runs away.  But of course, the love of a mother for her son is strong and she sets off to search for him.

While out in the world alone he is constantly pursued by the nasty Cat (superbly played by Jasper Britton) who's sole intention is to enjoy a meal of duck a l'orange.

Ugly is helped on his way by a group a World War Two RAF-style geese (led perfectly by David Bamber as the Squadron Leader Greylag, as well as Lowbutt, a hen and Queenie, another cat who uses her feminine charms to distract Ugly's predator.

David Burt is excellent as Drake, a father definitely not from the "New Man" mould. He is horror-stricken at the thought of looking after the family when Ida goes off to search for Ugly.

David Burt's high point, however, is not as Drake, but in the role of Bullfrog who sings the excellent song Warts And All, complete with the full cast in Busby Berkeley formation.

I would strongly recommend this show for all ages.  The story is simple, and the production is so vibrant and colourful that none of the younger children in the audience last Friday evening became restless.  The jokes and lyrics, however, are witty and humorous and are designed to keep the older members of the audience amused!

(Mike Hatton)

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