What better way to help cheer up the end to post holiday blues than a Sunday afternoon trip to the theatre, so we were very excited to be invited along to review The Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel at The Birmingham Hippodrome.
The show is the theatre’s first in house production, in collaboration with Open Theatre Company and METRO-BOULOT-DODO (MBD) performed at The Patrick Centre, a smaller stage within the main theatre. The cast and crew of the show are members of BecauseWeCanCanCan, a Midlands based company showcasing the talents of learning disabled actors.
The actors were all professional and enthusiastic. with high levels of energy throughout the performance. Hansel (Rishard Beckett) had some funny catchphrases whilst Gretel (Kimisha Lewis) is certainly no shrinking violet damsel in distress.
The story was introduced by the story teller (Nicky Priest) whose character wants to stick to the traditional plot line of the tale, but is often corrected by the other characters along the way, who are more than happy to tell him how they story should go. Musical accompaniment and sound effects are cleverly and imaginatively provided by the Mockingbird (Charles Graggs) who remains on stage throughout the performance.
The Duck (Vicki Taylor) made comical entrances onto the stage, much to the annoyance of the storyteller who was insistent that there was no such character in the story. Duck was a silent character and communicated through a series of flashcards, which the children in the audience found amusing.
The set is simple yet effective and primarily made from a series of blocks that have different scenes on the various sides. The cast flip these around to create the different scenes throughout the show. Whilst it was a clever approach, there were times that the change over, whilst slick, took a bit too long to be entertaining and you could see a few children in the audience getting fidgety.
Overall we enjoyed the show, Mini said that it was “awesome” however for me the story lacked a bit of magic. For a show that was labelled as a twisted tale, it stuck pretty much to the traditional plotline and didn’t add enough originality and sparkle for me as there could have been.
The show worked well in The Patrick Centre which is small enough to provide a great view from all seats and to give a cosy, intimate story telling feel. The performance was just over an hour, which was just right to keep the children’s attention.
The Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel is the first in a series of twisted tales productions to be produced and we are interested to see what stories come next.
Disclaimer: We were invited to The Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel for the purposes of a review, all views and opinions are entirely our own