A sheer enchanting delight from start to finish, Babe The Sheep-Pig has all the charm and magic that made the movie Babe such an audience fancy and critics’ favourite in 1995. It concerns an orphaned piglet that wants to be a sheepdog … after Farmer Hoggett wins her in a “guess the weight” contest at a county fair.
The border collie Fly takes Babe under her wing and she gets to call her “mum”. Ever polite, Babe is a quick learner and before long she has won over the sheep on the property and has ample opportunity to show her bravery. With that, the farmer’s wife changes her tune and no longer fancies the swine as a future succulent ham. But the best is yet to come when Farmer Hoggett signs up Babe for a local sheepherding competition. Written by David Wood and based upon a novel by Dick King-Smith, the 20-strong Victorian Youth Theatre cast brings the story of this extraordinary porker to life amidst a veritable cornucopia of talking animals.
Babe The Sheep-Pig is good-humoured, colourful, fanciful and fun, complete with jaunty music and audience interaction. The costumes are a real feature, including my favourites, namely ducks wearing yellow rain jackets and hats, and orange high visibility vests, sporting goggles and snorkels. And what would Babe be without resplendent sheep dogs and the sheep themselves? The cast also includes a rooster and a turkey.
The set is a beauty, with a large red farmhouse centralised at the back of the stage, in front of which sit wooden pens on simulated grass. To the right of the residence is a kitchen interior and to the left a viewing platform. A lot of thought has obviously gone into making this hour-long show something special for the whole family and Victorian Youth Theatre deserves high praise for what it has produced – lively, feel-good entertainment.
Victorian Youth Theatre’s production of Babe The Sheep-Pig is on at Southbank Theatre, The Lawler until 28th January.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television