All Creatures Great and Small

New Theatre, Cardiff

AS A huge fan of James Herriot's books based on his life as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales, and having loved the TV series of the same name, I wasn't sure how the story would translate on to the stage.

Although its been years since picking up All Creatures Great and Small the stories soon came to life as Oliver Mellor, in the role of James Herriot, narrated the tale conjuring up his life as a young vet and having to overcome the prejudices of dour hill farmers reluctant to give over their precious livestock to a young upstart.

Mark Curry as the batty but genius practice boss Siegfried Farnon had the character down to a t.

From a slow start the performance gently built up as Herriot grows in confidence and we struggled with him on his burgeoning relationship with the lovely Helen played by Clare Buckfield, his having to put down a prize horse and dealing with an old man losing his pet dog and only companion since the death of his wife.

And we laughed at his becoming uncle to the spoilt pet Tricky Woo owned by the formidable but very generous owner Mrs Pumphrey played by Susan Penhaligon who showers Herriot with luscious food hampers and fine bottles of port.

You do not have to be a fan of the writer to enjoy this production.

The stark reality of life in the 1930s and 40s and the struggles of farmers and their love/hate relationship with their vet was brought alive by this strong cast directed by Tim Welton.

A lovely portrayal of a fabulous book. The show runs until Saturday, June 14. Evening shows 7.30pm with 2.30pm matinees Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Box office 02920 878889.

Gina Robertson