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Hit the Baby, Natasha!

  • Date: 5 August 2009
  • Artform: Theatre
  • Area: Midlands
Natalie Wilson as Irina. Photo: Chris Keenan Natalie Wilson as Irina. Photo: Chris Keenan

Hit the Baby, Natasha! is a reworking of Russian playwright Anton Chechov’s 1900 play Three Sisters, staged by Walsall-based theatre company The Happiness Patrol.

The play explores the story of Three Sisters’ controlling wife Natasha in more detail, using a combination of live action and puppetry. Natasha is played by a puppet adapted from a dressmaker’s dummy, which begins simple and unsophisticated, but gets bigger and more detailed as Natasha grows in power and confidence.

The Happiness Patrol are stage small-scale productions of classic plays and adaptations of classic stories, specifically designed for intimate performance spaces. Over the last three years they have created productions based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Ovid and MR James Their approach has won acclaim in the press. Wrote The Metro’s David Baldwin: ‘If you’re a relatively small theatre company, the only way to compete with the big boys is with imagination and attention to detail. Midlands theatre company The Happiness Patrol is a case in point.’

The Happiness Patrol received £21,093 towards the production of Hit The Baby, Natasha! as part of the Arts Council’s Grants for the arts scheme. This funding meant it was able to commission its first original music score from composer Matthew Holland, and to work with puppetry for the first time. The puppet was designed and constructed by Caroline McDowell of Birmingham-based company Moving Hands.

The Happiness Patrol is currently redeveloping the production in time for a regional tour during 2010, marking the 150th anniversary of Chekhov’s birth. Visit their website at www.happiness-patrol.com