Dr Seuss’s The Lorax at The Old Vic review ★★★★

A riveting, joyful morality tale which goes down as well with the adults as the children, says Michael Hodges

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If there is a better musical based on a Dr Seuss story anywhere in the world right now I’ll eat my over-sized top hat. A revival by the Old Vic of their 2015 production, this version turns up the volume on an environmental morality tale that pits Simon Paisley Day’s full-on Once-ler, a down on his luck dreamer who invents a threadbare scarf called a thneed, against The Lorax,  an orange puppet with a very large moustache who protects the beautiful truffula trees from which – you guessed it – thneeds are a made.


The politics aren’t subtle but all the more effective for it – is losing the world a price worth paying for owning useless things? Well, maybe. Because in this production the devil really does have the best tunes, and the cavalcade of knowing spoofs on heavy rock and euro pop are actually great songs in their own right. The Lorax, operated by three puppeteers, and of an essentially maudlin disposition, does lead the excellent ensemble in a protest song but it is Paisley Day’s Once-ler, played as a demented Willie Wonka with hair as green as his trousers, who dominates an evening that works as well for five as fifty-year-olds.

Michael Hodges


The Lorax runs at the Old Vic until 5 November