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Rodent role is the perfect job for a Fox

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 20, 2013

Fox Jackson-Keen, left, says the adaptation of Philip Pullman's I Was a Rat has offered him a great challenge as a young actor

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Hall for Cornwall, Truro, Tuesday to Thursday

I Was A Rat! is Philip Pullman's enchanting story for younger readers about Roger, a scruffy page boy who turns up one evening on the doorstep of old married couple Bob and Joan.

"I was a rat!" he insists! But what is he now? A terrifying monster rampaging in the sewers? A money-spinning fairground freak? A champion wriggler and a downy card? Or just an ordinary boy, though a little ratty in his habits?

Now the story has been brought to life on stage in a co-production between Teatro Kismet from Italy and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Taking the leading role is the delightfully named Fox Jackson-Keen. "When I was born my dad loved The X-Files and named me after Fox Mulder, so I was pre-destined to be an actor," he laughs.

Although still a few months short of his 18th birthday, this isn't the first time Fox has played a lead role. When he was just 13, he became the first Londoner to play Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical.

"In Billy Elliot, the company really supported me to understand Billy. I was creating my own version of Billy but copying what had been done before. For this I was able to create Roger myself," he says.

"I am working with amazing, talented actors who can all play instruments and do juggling. It's a big jump – it's like me growing up, and Roger growing up.

"Roger is amazed at everything he sees. The world is seen through his eyes. Things appear grotesque, or they can appear evil, or the complete opposite, really sweet and funny.

"He really wants to fit in, to be part of something. He is torn between being a rat and a boy. It's a very emotional show and it's been adapted so brilliantly. It's a gift to play.

"It's a fairytale and like all great fairytales, there are bits for kids and bits for adults.

"There are bits of slapstick in the show which the whole family can enjoy, but the story also touches so many people."

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