"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
INTO THE WOODS
L.A.D.S. at The Tractor Shed
good summer for Sondheim. Sunday in the Park with George from NYMT
earlier this month, Follies at the National next week. And out
at Latchingdon, my seventh Into the Woods, staged for the first and probably
only time in a barn, with vintage tractors lining the stalls.
a popular show with amateur groups, despite the challenges presented
by the staging and the score. A further challenge herewas
the absence of an MD to conduct – the accompaniment is karaoke
style, which, to my surprise, works well, even for Sondheim. Though
it has to be said that balance and acoustics conspired to rob us of
some of his lovely lyrics.
a charmingly naïve simplicity – trees were
carried on and off, the birds were
suspended from a stick, Granny's little cottage acted
cleverly as a screen to spare us the worst of the Wolf's
garlands of flowers extended onto the apron, a useful acting area
where the orchestra pit might have been.
Hart's production combined
music and movement to excellent effect, especially in Act Two, where
numbers like No One Is Alone and Children Will Listen had a huge
emotional impact. The Giant was well suggested
by heavy footsteps
and falling leaves, the beans by firecrackers. The choreography was
by Aimee Hart, who also made a splendid Witch,
hook-nosed before her transformation, strikingly
more first class performances: a
lovely Baker's Wife from Carol Richardson, letting her hair down for
a tumble with her Prince in the woods, her Baker Matthew Bacon, very
strong in the “No More” sequence, Ben
Braden's sunny Jack, Yasmin Lisa Sharp's Cinders, Freya Brown's
Little Red Riding Hood [“I Know Things Now” very nicely done] and
Tasha Gooderham's Rapunzel. There was a good deal of doubling –
Prince and the Wolf, as is the custom [an
impressive Adam Hart],
but less usually Scarlette McSean gave us both Snow White and a
particularly emaciated Milky White, and Rapunzel's Prince [Jacob
Dawes] was given a Wolf of his own, plus Three Little Pigs as his
prey. Notable contributions too from Daniel Tunbridge – striped
blazer, panama – as the Narrator, Judi Embling as the wicked
Stepmother, and Robin Warnes as a Chekhovian Mysterious Man.
thought-provoking mix of fairytales – the Grimm and the gory never
far away – the ending especially moving, with the stage peopled by
the quick and the dead, a stylishly simple routine ending with
everyone turning upstage, save for that one wistful “I wish”.