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It’s about friendship

A rambunctious but emotional pig, a caustic rat, a disdainful lamb, a talkative goose, an intelligent “old sheep” and an astute spider are among characters actors play in Evolution Theatre Company's first production of the year, Charlotte's Web.

Based on American author EB White's popular novel, Charlotte's Web, that Publishers Weekly listed in 2000 as the best-selling children's paperback of all time, Evolution Theatre Company's production of the play is directed by Charli Haskell and Nikki Henderson.

“It's a story of friendship between a little girl and a pig she saves,” says Haskell.

“It's one of the classics.”

Farm girl Fern Arable saves a runty piglet she calls Wilbur but when the pig gets bigger he is sold to Fern's uncle. Wilbur craves companionship but is snubbed by the other animals except for barn spider Charlotte. When Wilbur discovers he is to be slaughtered, Charlotte works on a clever plan to save him.

Although Fern often listens to the animals' conversations, she finds other interests as she grows up. Charlotte too, grows up, but within a short lifespan. She leave her baby spiders with a delighted Wilbur but of course they too grow up, and most move on.

In the New York Times author Eudora Welty described the book as “about friendship . . . affection, and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passage of time . . . just about magical in the way it is done.”

“The animal characters make it fun for kids and adults,” says Haskell.

“The play is really fun. It doesn't matter how old you are. It's a comedy with some sad parts and that's what makes it interesting. Because it aimed at kids it's not too sad. It goes through all sorts of emotions but doesn't leave you sad too long.”

Haskell expects the audience will include many adults who know the story from when they were children.

The 18-strong cast is made up of children, teens and adults who have “worked together brilliantly”, says Haskell.

“The actors who play the animals embrace their roles. You feel awkward asking people to make strange animal noises but they've been right into it.”

■ Charlotte's Web, Evolution Theatre Company, 75 Disraeli Street, January 15-30. Tickets for evening shows and matinees, $28+bf for adults, $25+bf youth/seniors, from trybooking.com.

AT THE FAIR: Charlotte's Web character Fern Arable, played by Callie Stevens (third left) watches over her beloved pig Wilbur (Bea Grant) at the county fair, while (left) farmer Homer Zuckerman (Ross Stevens), Avery Arable (obscured) played by Leyla Fawcett and John Arable (Andrew Stevens) are amused in Evolution Theatre Company's production of Charlotte's Web. Picture supplied