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.
How much you enjoy Creation Theatre’s online show might depend on how many Zoom meetings you attend. I am afraid I go to too many. But since the experience is aimed at families, who don’t have to use it for work, here’s hoping for its success. The kids I saw watching seemed to enjoy it (along with a pet dog, who was very interested at one point).
In a series of meetings (be quick clicking from one to the next) we join the characters from Lewis Carroll’s novel. The performances are committed, I enjoyed Dharmesh Patel’s Mad Hatter and Annabelle Terry’s Cook. And there are inventive touches that Tom Richardson makes the most of – for Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee – that are a lot of fun.
It’s all out for interactivity. There’s the chance to shout and dance, as well as a card trick someone has to help with. And, very cleverly, draw too (you watch on your computer but have a phone ready for this bit). All the cast deal well with drawing in the audience. The narrative is hard to pick out, so it might be difficult to follow without already knowing the story – maybe make it bedtime reading beforehand? And it would be nice, as well as useful, to see more of Leda Douglas’s Alice. But Zoe Seaton’s adaption effectively emphasises the craziness in the original and makes it entertaining.
While it wouldn’t be a Zoom meeting without some glitches, conversations between the characters are clearly well rehearsed and Seaton has done another good job as director. The fact remains that too many people have too many of these meetings and, even if this is a lot more fun than most, it’s an unforgiving format. Credit to Creation Theatre for making so much of the technology… it still seems like a lot of work for little result to grumpy old me.
by the HG Wells novel, this immersive show has the huge benefit of being staged
in The London Library. Playwright Jonathan Holloway’s new story unfolds in the
gorgeous reading rooms and wonderful bookstacks. Admittedly, it’s a slight on
the show that its main attraction is a bibliophile’s dream locale, but director
Natasha Rickman and her team at Creation Theatre really do showcase the
Small groups are led around by an individual time traveller and mine – performed by Paul (PK) Taylor – was excellent, being good at engaging those who wanted interaction and leaving alone those who did not. Injecting a sense of urgency, even spookiness, he even managed to cover up a technical hitch for a good while. Joined for a couple of scenes by Graeme Rose as a computer who reminded me of a Gilbert and George artwork, the two did well with an anarchic streak that is the best of Holloway’s script.
a cheeky humour to the show that I felt growing on me. With the idea that
things are being changed constantly – including our socks – by illegal time
travellers, there are plenty of smart lines. Playing with the past, especially
with famous authors, should appeal to the audience, while claiming that the first
instance of time travel was in New York nightclub Studio 54 (and playing Donna
Summer in the library) is a great idea. It’s a shame it all gets more serious.
The Time Machine has a lot of important things to say. Wells would no doubt approve. But doom and gloom about the future mean this machine stalls. A “torrent of information” we’re exposed to is delivered well and bite-sized gobbets of science and philosophy are digestible enough. But too many scenarios of Armageddon arrive – each a cliché and fuelled, you guessed it, by conspiracies. Maybe we just don’t need more talk of epidemics right now but, rather than feeling topical, the show feels tired.
keeps up the energy (joined by Sarah Edwardson and Funlola Olufunwa with two underwritten
roles that they try hard with), and there’s a real effort to introduce passion
and urgency. But a lot of what’s said becomes silly and the show’s originality
evaporates. When it comes to imagining the future, this feels like old news.
The only safe prediction should be an increase in membership for The London