Monday, March 07, 2016

It’s not just fluffy bunnies – here comes the dark side of Beatrix Potter

A puppet musical show co-written by Alan Ayckbourn will bring out the villainy in a nursery classic as part of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth

Peter Rabbit and his mother at the World Of Beatrix Potter attraction.
Peter Rabbit and his mother at the World Of Beatrix Potter attraction. Photograph: Ben Barden/PR
Beatrix Potter’s bucolic tales about bunny rabbits, hedgehogs and puddleducks will be celebrated across Britain this summer as the country marks 150 years since the writer and illustrator’s birth. But now an unexpected literary ally, the playwright Alan Ayckbourn, has signed up to help ensure that the darker side of Potter’s enduring imaginative world is not forgotten.

The revered dramatist is writing the lyrics for a new children’s show called Where’s Peter Rabbit? that will star puppets, like the hit stage shows War Horse and The Lion King, and he is aiming to avoid sugary sentiment as he tackles these favourites of the nursery bookshelf.

The two darkly creative minds of Ayckbourn and Potter are well-matched, according to Roger Glossop, who is devising and designing the show at his Lake District theatre. Ayckbourn, he argues, has the wicked sense of humour needed for handling Potter’s often rather brutal tales, and his satirical eye was drawn to the project by Potter’s unflinching vision of “nature, red in tooth and claw”, as much as by the enduring charm of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, Jeremy Fisher or Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.   More

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