a pretty grimm experience

Thursday, 29 January 2015




philip pullman's compelling take on the infamous grimm tales is certainly something else. i had no idea what to expect before our arrival last wednesday night, but as we entered through the bargehouse doors to the grand piano playing eerily on its own and the exposed and flickering antique lights, i knew it was going to be a little bit mad. what i didn't expect was what unfolded over the next few hours; a completely stripped back evening of high-production but no frills storytelling.

director philip wilson's 'grimm tales' production is unlike any theatrical adaption i have ever seen. the stories are mostly narrations, with the actors sharing the task of describing what's going on in the scene, as well as their own lines - helpful, as these tales are not the disney ones i know and love, they're the morally eccentric fables you never wanted to hear as a child.

the sorta-familiar stories unfold around you, making the production completely immersive and totally intimate, and the two separate casts are dotted about the three-leveled warehouse and lead you from room to room until your next story is ready for you. the only story that was totally familiar was hansel and gretel - the rest, each had a sense of familiarity to them, but we could never really work out what stories they were. was it cinderella? was it the princess and the frog? who could say.

what i could say is this: it was a completely refreshing take on the theatre. i don't love theatre normally - musicals, yes, cinema, occasionally, but theatre, usually not. the right novelty and marketing is all it takes to get me interested, and what i especially loved about these stories, is that they're short, sharp and not-very-sweet. yes, the key to keeping my attention, is to make it short and punchy, and that's exactly what pullman and wilson delivered with their take on an old classic.

we were lucky to be invited down to review the show before it closes in april, but you can go ahead and buy your tickets here... if you dare.

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