That particularly ravenous caterpillar which is the subject of one of the best-selling children’s books of all time, has enchanted children and their parents all over the world. Red Biscuit Theatre give this beloved tale a double-portion size twist, making The Very Well-Fed Caterpillar a hilarious version for grown-ups but with no less of a moral compass, or message to deliver.
So, what if the caterpillar didn’t manage to transform in to a butterfly, and was instead cast out by its parents, and foisted on to the poor inhabitants of Cape Caterpillar. As their king, the Caterpillar steals their food and eats their children, but discovers redemption and love when he comes across a pulsating purple portal to a parallel universe. Here he meets a beautiful butterfly, who rules over Butterfly Bay with kindness and compassion.
This zany comedy progresses at break-neck speed, with the five actors jumping from role to role on the turn of a pin. There are no costumes, or even props, instead the characters and settings are conveyed through superb use of physical theatre, the cast mould their bodies and voices in to each character allowing each one to stand completely distinct from the last.
As undergraduates at the University of Chichester, Theo Moore, Craig Unadkat, Nathan Charles, Ted Vaudrey and Murray Burgess who make up this all male theatre company, have clearly developed a strong bond, which can be seen in those finely tuned physical theatre elements of the show. The Very Well-Fed Caterpillar is expertly choreographed so that each scene flows in to the next without the slightest pause.
There are a few jokes which you can’t help think were probably a lot funnier when the guys were cocooned together in a rehearsal space somewhere, but when presented to an audience don’t land with the same punch. The many jokes which do land, may not be the most intellectual, feeling a little Monty Python in places, but they do work extremely well in this context.
The decision to stage the play without any kind of set or costumes is ultimately the right one, it allows the audience to see clearly the accomplishment of Red Biscuit Theatre in their delivery, and allows for a little bit of imagination to creep in, reminding us why we loved the original book to begin with.
Fast-paced, very silly and packed with exceptional examples of physical theatre, The Very Well-Fed Caterpillar shows what can be done where a theatre company utilises its greatest asset, it’s company. Red Biscuit Theatre may just be starting out in their careers, but they are sure to emerge as a theatre company with a bright future