A Pocketful of Grimms

Mon 10th August – Thu 10th September 2015

reviews

Julia Pritchard

at 09:09 on 12th Aug 2015

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A Pocketful Of Grimms leads children through the worlds of four different Grimm fairy tales, aided by the use of music, magic and sensational props.

Covering Hansel and Gretel, The Golden Goose, Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin, it is certain that the Story Box Theatre company succeeded in keeping the tales accurate despite the removal of the more brutal original details. It was simultaneously entertaining and educational, teaching important morals and lessons, much like a traditional fairy tale.

The tale of Dummling in The Golden Goose, although not one of the most famous Grimm tales, was by far the most successful of the four. The characterisation of the snooty and pretentious parents and brothers by the cast members was hilarious, with William Forde (who played both brothers and Dummling) switching between different voices and stances at great speed and success. This presentation doubled an accurate mockery of society's middle class - something that would have been lost on young children, but making it a cleverly witty show for the older viewers too.

The use of audience involvement in telling the tales suspended the children’s belief and made them part of a magical, fantasy world. The involvement of young girl and her dad as part of Dummling’s journey in the story was met by infectious laughter from the audience’s youth, and is undoubtedly something I would have excited about as a child, even perhaps now.

Raven Kaliana and Polly Beestone really excel themselves as the creators of the beautifully hand-crafted props which are put to exceptional use in the show. Their numerous creations, including a wooden dove, a gorgeous velveteen lion head and an intricately detailed Rumpelstiltskin puppet (complete with a hand carved face of anger and even golden weaving round its middle), take this show from a stereotypical collection of children’s fairy tales, to ones that seem much more mystical and rustic.

Yet for a children’s show, I think it was too long. The Rumpelstiltskin tale dragged towards the end and I’m not sure a silly little interlude during Beauty in the Beast about a dog, a bird and a sausage was needed; it detracted from the magic of the original tale, and resulted in a few of the children becoming evidently restless, especially in a baking hot venue at lunchtime.

With its hilarity, charm and truly enchanting feel, A Pocketful of Grimms is the type of show I would have loved as a child.

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Beckie Rutherford

at 10:16 on 12th Aug 2015

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Although many of the messages within the Grimm brother’s fairy tales seem dubiously outdated in modern context, this hour-long production from Story Pocket Theatre (winners of the Primary Times Children's Choice Award at last year's Fringe) delightfully showcases half a dozen original stories. This is sprightly, whole-hearted entertainment and well worth a family visit.

The selection of tales was an interesting mix of popular favourites such as Hansel and Gretel with some less well known stories such as The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage. The enthusiasm of the audience response was varied, but depended more upon the complexity of characterisation and plot than preconceived familiarity with certain tales.

The multi-purpose moving set was impressively versatile and enabled seamless transition from one story to the next. It was enchanting for both parents and children alike to witness its swift transformation from a woodland forest to a gingerbread house to a turreted castle. The four cast members’ earnest engagement with the audience was charmingly well done and the enlistment of some helpers to enact the Golden Goose parade to market went down a treat.

Some of the best-received characters were unsurprisingly those which were larger-than-life – the dim-witted comics and despicable villains, as opposed to the mild-natured princesses and humble heroes. Rumpelstiltskin particularly stood out – not only for the exquisite craftsmanship of the puppet that was used to portray him but also the wonderfully cantankerous voice that brought it to life. The humorous characters in The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage were light-hearted and refreshing, and some additional wit for parental benefit was finely intermingled with simple visual silliness that will make the kids giggle.

Sound was used to great effect to create a melancholy atmosphere in Lily and the Lion, but sadly was underused elsewhere. For younger children in need of a more immersive sensory introduction to drama, the necessity of concentrating on dialogue for an extended period will probably detract from their engagement and enjoyment of the experience.

That said, Story Pocket Theatre have done a marvellous job of energising some of the best loved, classical fairy tales and the charming enthusiasm of this production will guarantee smiles all-round.

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