As soon as you walk into the Rondo when the doors open at 7.30, you can see it’s been transformed. Core Theatre Productions have turned the intimate yet open space into a dark forest; with large trees and green drapes, even leaves trailing up along the auditorium, the space is almost unrecognisable. Credit goes to set designer Julia Marshall-Wessendorf for such a radical change in atmosphere and aesthetic.
The show itself is a mixture of various fairytales, from Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, to Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin. We follow the story with the help of The Story Teller and meet many weird and wonderful characters along the way.
It was particularly refreshing to see a mainly female cast, with The Prince being the only male character. It was clear from the beginning that this ensemble (Laura Bentley, Mayur Bhatt, Anna Gahlin, Laura Ollerton, Emma Firman, Darcy Roles and Natalie Taylor) had banded together as a tight team to devise this piece, with Co-Directors Sarah Larmour and Jennie Woloschuk at the helm. Stand-out performances came from Anna Gahlin and Laura Ollerton as Baba and Yaga, who reminded me of an (only slightly) toned down version of Cinderella’s Ugly Sisters. The two women gave the show a breath of fresh air every time they entered with extremely funny lines and a great rapport.
There was nice use of some techniques, The Story Teller’s use of puppets was very well done and Laura Bentley (puppet master for the evening) was able to time the audience perfectly to get laughs. The hidden glade behind the gauze at the back of the stage was another lovely effect, used perfectly to reveal the hidden beauty whilst she lay awaiting her Prince.
The twists and turns of the piece, reversing our idea of how a real fairytale should be, kept the audience guessing all the way to the end, and provided an entertaining evening for all.