After studying Carol Ann Duffy’s work in school, I can say that my expectations were set high as I sat amongst an audience of restless young minds and excited adults alike. I couldn’t wait to see how Duffy’s vivid imagination and blunt tone would play out on stage in comparison to the short poems I’d analysed so carefully.
The play featured four young, talented actors that sang and waltzed and even pecked their way across the stage, using the lack of props to their best of their ability as they gave two exemplary performances of the infamous tales, Hansel and Gretel and Ashputtel.
Needless to say, the children in the audience settled down quickly as the production began with the eerily soothing voices of Hansel and Gretel’s family, and they stared at the awe-filled children with big eyes, maintaining enough eye contact with each spectator as to include each and every person in the new world they presented.
Although the tale of Hansel and Gretel delivered a more melancholy side of Duffy’s imagination, the ending was sure to warm the hearts of every parent in the room, enough to prepare them for the big dose of fun the second half of the production was ready to lump on top of them, and, true to its name, Ashputter left in its wake a layer of ashes impossible to shake off after it’s spectacularly bright show.
At one point towards the end of show, a step-sister screeched mid-stage as she used a plastic axe to saw off the tips of her toes that she couldn’t fit into the slipper. Although the guffaws of the children suggested they found the act funny, I’m sure some parents, as well as myself, found the incessant screaming and fake bloody rag more than a little bit alarming. This was not a rare occurrence either, as body parts were chopped off on two occasions.
On the whole, Grimm Tales was an eye-opening, funny, and family-orientated production I wouldn’t hasten to recommend to a family with younger children, so long as the members were okay with a little bit of gore.