Grimm Ever After

Tue 13th – Sun 18th August 2013


Alex Wilson

at 20:36 on 14th Aug 2013



This may seem a low strike, but the word-play of the title ‘Grimm Ever After’ - a tale of the imagined lives of those notable fairytalists the brothers Grimm - emerged as a deadly pun, apt for quite another reason. Narrative, acting and staging were all, alas, rather grim – little redeemed it, I’m afraid.

The narrative focuses on the romances of the Grimm brothers – incidentally performed in an entirely unfeeling kind of way – and their bizarre discoveries of fairytale characters in the woods. I have to say that I felt uninvolved in this story, owing largely to a lack of any development. The script was clunky and unconvincing. Will Grimm says to Rapunzel the cringe-inducing: "I don’t mind having you around; you’re not too bad on the eyes", to which she passionately commands him to kiss her. After locking lips, he then retracts in confusion, before giving Rapunzel a piggy-back ride away?!

Equally absurd was the questioning of: "Oh, I was just wondering why there’s an evil hag chasing you?", one of many clunky, clichéd and simply inappropriate lines. Add to this absurdity the fact that the Grimms seemed to think they were some kind of comic double act, inevitably plummeting like a lead balloon. Wit was feebly attempted – ‘Well, one does tend to incur an injury when one is hit over the head’ was apparently a comic masterpiece.

This unimpressive scripting was compounded by poor acting. Actors, on the whole, 'said' their lines in a monotone shared by the whole cast; they did not inhabit their characters. Fairytale characters turn up, generating no surprise in the Grimms at all, one merely remarks in a sing-song intonation: ‘I must be dreaming…’. Among the bunch of actors, the marginal strongest was perhaps Robert Booth, who played charmingly both the French frog and the showman-prince who opened and closed the story. However, my overall impression of the cast was a lack of stage presence and a sense of lethargy. Prevailing tendencies were to slouch and stuff hands in pockets, muffle away lines, and make almighty thudding while exiting through the audience.

Frankly, rather than making a trip to this show, I would suggest revisiting the original stories of the Grimm brothers, which I’m sure would prove infinitely more satisfying. And so, folks, with this play it truly is a case of 'grim ever after'. The end.


Theodora Hawlin

at 13:43 on 16th Aug 2013



From the very first words of this production, things are not as they seem. We are not greeted in familiar fairy-tale fashion but instead by a jaunty: ‘Bonjour!’. In this tale, Rapunzel jumps from a 30 foot tower, the Frog Prince doesn’t really end up with the princess, and Little Red Riding Hood carries scissors in her basket as well as sweets. Yet the ‘adaptations’ that Katrina Grier makes don’t really seem to convey the power of her manifesto to ‘ignite’ the imagination; the grand claims the piece sets out to achieve are never quite fulfilled, caught in a Disney-esque shell.

The show opens with the fall out of the famous Brothers Grimm (Steven Bennett and Craig Phelps), yet both brothers seem to lack the fervour their roles required. A lot of the time the script seems to miss making its mark, but, then again, the audience in which I sit is bare of the concessions that the show craves to entertain. I’m certain that with a younger audience this play would have fared better. However, this wouldn’t have excused the moments of frail acting and blunt scripting. Lines that should have had impact or sudden turns in conversational tone were rushed away with little change in intonation or expression.

The acting fluctuated between moments of weakness and conviction. Robert Booth’s Prince Frog was delivered with amusing panache. Thomas Hillier’s Prince Charming was wonderfully hyperbolic, embracing the bizarre hybrid of tale and non-tale, continuing the comical self-awareness of the entire piece. Becki Dack showed impressive variety within the production, switching seamlessly between her roles as a clichéd princess, Cara (Jacob’s Wife) and Grandmother –who also cunningly took part in a mechanised wolf carcass, animating it with her own body within the stomach. Similarly Lynsey Gunning amused in her transformations from Old Mother Hammond, to Little Red, and then an exotic French princess. Even the brothers shine at points of tenderness, such as when Phelps helps a wounded Rapunzel (Faebian Averies) or when Bennett is discussing future plans with Cara.

Yet we are not left with a ‘Grimm Ever After’ but the cliché. Despite the alterations, the show returns to the comfort of the fairytale frame: it’s sweet but slightly stale. Ultimately the script was fine, if a little shaky at times with predictable twists and turns, but some of the actors need to commit to their roles with more flair in order to ensure a successful show in the future. As Vadiroydd Productions debut performance at the Fringe, with revision, I look forward to seeing this team develop. However, right now their story is only just beginning.


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