Seasons of Change: A Review of I Theatre's "The Ant and the Grasshopper" 2017

Grow and change 
Grow and change
Look around and you will see
Everyday a little difference
Nothing stays the same you'll see.

I Theatre's musical showcase The Ant and The Grasshopper is all about change. Yet not everyone is keen to embrace the changes that occur each day. There's the Grasshopper, who lives from day to day, composing songs and dancing to the beat of the springtime sunshine. There's the Ant, who attempts to deal with the upcoming winter by neurotically gathering food and neglecting the beauty of the world around her. There's the Caterpillar, a little creature who is afraid of everything and everyone, and who spends her life resisting every iota of change. There's the Ladybird, who deals with change by escaping south to a warmer climate. And there are of course the Bees, who make it their business to question every single change that happens to everyone other than themselves.

I Theatre has taken a classic tale from Aesop, and transformed it into a deeper and richer experience for its audience. From plot and characterisation to music, dance and background scenery, the local theatre company has created a magical world which delights all audiences young and old.

Having watched the original production in 2014 (our review can be found here), I have to proclaim that Artistic Director Brian Seward has again outdone himself. The 2014 production was already one of my all-time favourites, but this time round, the production was even more spectacular.

A significant change was the addition of Safia Hanifah as the neurotic caterpillar Nessa. The 2014 production featured Nessa as a puppet, but this time round the Malaysian actress brought the Caterpillar to flesh, while also doubling up as one of the bees. Hanifah's crisp Caterpillar accent and timid movements undoubtedly added a lovely touch to the show. 

Another major change was the lovely backdrops. For this production, I Theatre created a gigantic tree trunk as the backdrop, which helped to depict the characters as larger than life. As for the spectacular lighting effects, this created the colour changes in the leaves and flowers, and helped to communicate the imminent nature of change.

At the end of the day, seasons come and seasons go; and change is the only constant. But I Theatre has managed to keep up with the times (incorporating cool scooter moves by the fashionista Ladybird), while yet spinning a story that retains good old-fashioned moral values. Perhaps that is the meaning of change; to be relevant to what goes on around us, but yet to remain resilient while dealing with the turbulence that might otherwise spin us out of control.

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