The 1988 Japanese animated movie My Neighbour Totoro is a contemporary basic, about two ladies who transfer to the countryside and encounter troll-like spirits who draw them right into a mystical realm, mentioned Dominic Cavendish in The Every day Telegraph. This world-premiere stage model is already a “monster” box-office smash for the RSC; and it’s a pleasure to report that it absolutely lives as much as the hype.
Tom Morton-Smith’s stage adaptation is directed by Phelim McDermott, with music by Joe Hisaishi that augments his authentic movie soundtrack with “soothing and stirring” songs. And it “superbly” retains all that followers liked concerning the movie: it has a “mild, philosophical tempo”, a “beguiling strangeness”. It’s a “triumph – an important energy surge of Anglo-Japanese inventive electrical energy match for these soul-sapped instances”.
How do you adapt an “iconic” Studio Ghibli movie that’s extensively thought-about an “unsurpassed feat of fantasy animation”, requested Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. “Similar to this, it might appear.” McDermott’s stage model will not be a precise reproduction – however it’s “simply as enchanting and maybe extra emotionally impactful”. The connection between the sisters, Satsuki and Mei, and their father are caught tenderly, and their “understated craving” for his or her hospitalised mom is quietly transferring.
The set, designed by Tom Pye, is as cell and multi-faceted as origami: every scene breaks aside to type one other “entrancing” world. The puppetry, by Basil Twist, is magical. And Totoro himself, a gigantic however charming beast, is “formidable, eerie, comedian and endearing” unexpectedly.
As a visible feast, My Neighbour Totoro is “matchless”, mentioned David Benedict in Selection. The design staff has “let rip”, and the outcome is “grand-scale theatrical storytelling”. However newcomers to the story searching for a “satisfying, well-paced plot” will likely be upset.
The tempo is a bit sluggish, agreed Sarah Hemming within the FT. It’s maybe a bit too devoted to the movie in that respect: “it may very well be shorter, meatier and freer”. Even so, this can be a “tender, remarkably lovely household present” – a “beautiful, uplifting” exploration of the world “as seen by means of a toddler’s eyes”.
RSC, Barbican Theatre, London EC2. Till 21 January