adapted from the Brothers Grimm by Carol Ann Duffy dramatised by Tim Supple.
Library Theatre To 23 January 2010.
10.15am 14 Jan.
10.30am 6-8, 12, 13, 19, 21, 22 Jan.
2.15pm 6, 7, 12-14, 18, 20, 21 Jan.
2.30pm 29 Dec-2 Jan, 9, 16, 23 Jan
7.30pm 29, 30 Dec, 2, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 Jan.
Audio-described 14 Jan 2.15pm, 23 Jan 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 14 Jan 2.15pm, 16 Jan 2.30pm.
Captioned 9 Jan 2.30pm, 22 Jan 7.30pm.
Lone Parents performance 31 Dec 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0161 236 7110.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 December.
The wild woods in the front room.
Nowhere’s comfortable or safe on this stage. Performers come through windows, doors and mirror, or pop-up through the ground. Besides furniture, trees grow in a room which opens onto a vaguely-beheld wintry forest. It could be the human mind in its complexity, as readily as a mix of inside and outside in the physical world.
Gary McCann’s setting suggests so much, in the cold shades of James Whiteside’s lighting. And Rachel O’ Riordan’s production confidently maintains the Library’s high repute for theatrically bold, adventurous storytelling come Christmastide. Poet Carol Ann Duffy and director Tim Supple’s version of well and lesser-known stories from the Grimm brothers’ collection (originally seen at London’s Young Vic Theatre) is fine material for such theatrical adventure.
Edginess extends from the production’s look through the onstage music, mostly played by the actors, and their narration of events. Stories that often extend to a whole evening pass in comparatively brief time and are all the starker for it, while the energy’s maintained in the swift transitions between stories, with actors shifting scenery or providing vigorous music.
Throughout, there’s no attempt at over-dramatisation, or editorialising. Events happen without explanation or decoration. And there’s no cuddly appeal to audience sympathy. This show doesn’t sidle up, but grabs by the scruff of the neck. The impact’s exhilarating, though the minimum age of 6 needs taking seriously.
Events happen with relentless inevitability, something O’Riordan’s cast catch in their style, at once emphatic and understated. This quality continues to the end, as a little tale – the nearest to comedy – pointing out how people (or all creatures) are best playing to their strengths, is followed by a Beauty and the Beat that’s only tangential to the known version – one refined through French neo-classical sensibilities – and a final Red Cap (aka Riding Hood) that has the performer who’s shown the sweetest sympathy so far baring their teeth.
Not a happy ending. Nor is this a gentle show. But it’s a big, bracing adventure that responds to the complexities of folk-stories and to the strangeness of experience when locks and bolts offer no protection.
Cast: Pete Ashmore, Angela Bain, Jack Beale, Sarah Groarke, Joanna Hickman, Jack Lord, Sophia Nomvete, David Ononokpono.
Musician: Mark Aspinall.
Director: Rachel O’Riordan.
Designer: Gary McCann.
Lighting: James Whiteside.
Sound: Paul Gregory.
Composer/Musical Director: Conor Mitchell.
Hair/Make-up: Angela Carradus.
Assistant director: Katie Lewis.