duck

Nicky Priest as the storyteller, Vicky Taylor as the duck and Charles Craggs as The Mockingbird. Pictures: Kate Green

Hansel and Gretel

Coventry Belgrade B2

****

Hansel and Gretel is perhaps one of the darkest and most scary of fairy stories in the hands of the Brothers Grimm with its tale of a brother and sister abandoned in the forest by their parents and a cannibal witch with a penchant for child casseroles.

Put it into the hands of  the Open Theatre Company though and it becomes a light hearted, laugh a minute romp with a bit of rock  - and a duck - thrown in as it is given the Twisted Tales treatment – in what promises to be the first in a series.

The production, which, incidentally, involves learning disabled actors among the cast, takes the bare bones of the tale and gives it . . . a twist.

We have a story teller, Nicky Priest, who, to be honest, struggles to tell it, despite being grade A and certified. For a start Gretel is supposed to be frightened and demure, except this Gretel played by Kimisha Lewis, don’t do scared little girl, she’s feisty, even bolshie, and then there is the duck, played by Vicki Taylor, who declares that the duck is the hero of the story, which the storyteller sees as quackers . . . sorry crackers.

hansel

Luke Greenwood, Kimisha Lewis, Rishard Beckett, Jake Jarvis and, seated, Nicky Priest

Then he has The Mockingbird, played by Charles Craggs, who plays a whole range of instruments quite brilliantly. The only problem is that The Mockingbird doesn’t quite take it all that seriously, which infuriates our story teller.

Then there is Hansel, played by Rishard Beckett, who is more beat box than fairy tale and parents, dad Luke Greenwood and stepmother Jake Jarvis, who also pops up as the wicked, child eating witch, while Greenwood, to the storyteller’s bafflement, appeared from her cottage as the chef - who is an addition to the tale.

So we had Hansel, Gretel and a chef making their way home, thanks to the duck – the end.

It is production with a lot of charm, some audience participation, lots of fun – and not a frightening moment in sight. Imaging Monty Python meets Jackanory and that gives you an idea of what you are in for. My grandson, aged six, gave it a seal of approval and even parents and grandparents had a smile on their face as they left. To 12-04-18

Roger Clarke

11-04-18

Hansel and Gretel will be at Malvern Theatres on Tuesday and Wednesday, 17-18 April. 

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