It’s always good to remember how grim the Brothers Grimm tales are. Hosted on Zoom, Creation Theatre’s production highlights how much abuse, trauma (and cannibalism) the stories contain. The result is a mature affair, spooky and scary, that provides a much-needed hour away from mundane life. Strong story-telling and impressive imaginative touches take us to a distinct world with crazed characters “living in exile”. It’s worth a trip.
Several tales – The Juniper Tree, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Godfather Death and The Moon – are interwoven; the technique has pros and cons. Mixing up the stories is engaging (you have to concentrate) but can be confusing at times. A lot is packed into an hour. The advantage is to bring out common themes that provide plenty to think about: families, mortality…and a lot of stealing.
The adaptations, devised with the cast, are full of contemporary touches and colloquialisms; plenty make it clear the show is aimed at grown-ups. Graeme Rose takes the lead, his telling of The Juniper Tree exemplifies the show’s tone. And there are touches of macabre humour that lead to a stand-out performance from Natasha Rickman.
The show is driven by the attempt to create atmosphere and it is successfully creepy. The music, make-up, camera work and costumes are all good. The style becomes something of an obsession. Gari Jones’ direction is extremely determined. If performances suffer as a result – giving us little sense of individuals – escapism is achieved.
Whatever reservations you might have about the format, Creation Theatre make a good claim for becoming experts in our new normal of Digital Theatre. It isn’t fancy technology they can be proud of. While the planning behind the show must be daunting, effectiveness comes from simple camera work and lighting – not special effects. A model town and the use of a tiny origami bird stand out. And the idea of watching the show by candlelight: a nice touch, and it works too.
Until 13 March 2021