Sunday, March 23, 2014

Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales at Shoreditch Town Hall.

This, I must thank Phil for. He spotted it. I had a spare night. Hunted through the Guardian's latest theatre recommendations. Was left underwhelmed by the volume of revived classics, then spotted that my seer of good theatre Lyn Gardner had tipped the Tales. The date stars aligned. And we were off.

It's a lovely thing. It claims to be an immersive fairytale. And that it is. And a beautifully dressed and choreographed one at that.

We were told five delectable stories by an extremely talented and inventive (and presumably brilliantly directed) cast of eight. Red Riding Hood (and oh, the wolf was wonderful). Rapunzel. And then three new tales (new to this tender reader, in any case), each of which was deliciously macabre. Deliciously grim, I should say.

The script, storytelling, acting, lighting, sound, direction, choreography were all just the ticket. Sound and lights in particular were marvellously atmospheric.

But the wonder - two wonders actually - of the piece came in part from the audience management. For this is a promenade piece that - given that the performance I attended was ridiculously early in the run - was more or less flawlessly executed. A different beast altogether to The Drowned Man but beautifully suited to the nature of the tales.

And in other part from the set. Set does it no justice. Venue dressing gets closer. Art direction closer still. For step through the secret door into the fairytale world and you're properly whisked away into somewhere magical. Wonderous and wonderful. I could have spent the whole night prowling about once the tales were told. And still not taken in all of the detail.

I took a couple of cheeky sneaky photos. But you're not meant to - as the cloaked guides pointed out with some slight disapproval. So I shan't share them here. But go, please go, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of Shoreditch at any point over the next few weeks. As the world you'll find there is every bit as peculiar and beautiful as a wing of Bluebeard's castle. But far more temporary.

I'm hoping they'll negotiate a Fringe gig. Summerhall would suit them down to the ground. Pretty please?


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