Sunday, December 15, 2013


at Brentwood Theatre

Mike Kenny's clever re-working of the old tale is a family show in every sense.
Its ingenious form takes a nuclear family of four, and has them tell the story, slipping in and out of the familiar characters. Quite intelligent enough to entertain the most sophisticated of grown-ups. Quite magical enough, and comical enough, to delight the kids.
Director Joseph C Walsh uses the family's kitchen as a chameleon setting for forest and gingerbread house, and the four versatile young actors are convincing both as the modern family and the woodcutter, his wife, and his two hapless children. So Charlotte Bradford plays both mothers, as well as the Wicked Witch; Paul Tonkin is the fathers and the enormous dormouse who overcomes his fear to help defeat the evil child-snatcher. Stephen O'Riain is Hansel, easily distracted by food, and Hannah Douglas is a feisty Gretel – it is her initiative that finishes the tale, giving it that all-important jazz hands happy ending.
The catchy little numbers [Andrew Dodge] – Time for A Treat either side of the ice-cream interval, What I Really Enjoy is a Boy a splendid anthem for the Witch – have witty lyrics, and both punctuate and illustrate the narrative, making for a uniquely enjoyable blend of story-telling and musical theatre.

production photography by Carmel Jane

1 comment:

Mary Redman said...

Oh what joy, a delightful show that isn't shouting its head off both verbally and musically. The result is magical in its effect on both the child and the adult audience. No more overactive, hyped-up little darlings (unless they'd been at the Old Woman's sugar) and we crumblies could enjoy the sheer delight of a tale simply, yet imaginatively told by just four actors.
Director Joseph C Walsh used the multipurpose, transformational set to good advantage while his talented cast wove the spell of a good story. This adaptation by Mike Kenny is set is deprived modern times with Andrew Dodge's songs MDed by Ian Southgate and choreographed by Sarah Sullivan proving that they don't have to be brash to be effective and entertaining.
Inside David Zelly's really homely woodcutter's cottage just about every detail was multipurpose with the clothes horse becoming prison bars and a sock turning into a little mouse.
Hannah Douglas's Gretel and Stephen O'Riain's Hansel were very easily identifiably squabbling siblings. Charlotte Bradford's Mother and Old Woman was suitably warm and hardhearted while Paul Tonkin's Father was mostly rendered useless by their circumstances.
Joy Dunn and Lynn Trubridge's simple costumes were also often multipurpose.
This was an excellent, entertaining and fun production, obviously done on a shoestring, yet never threadbare and always full of seasonal spirit.
Mary Redman

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