Ever After—A Mixed Up Fairytale
Rayne Theatre, Chickenshed
Shows at Chickenshed are always ambitious. It's not enough for their Christmas production to give us one fairytale with a rota cast of some two hundred performers. They have mixed several tales together and added some comical contributions from the brothers Grimm, the collectors of folk stories, except the original two brothers have become four, one of whom is the female Jackie (Lauren Cambridge), for as she points out we don't want any outdated notions of gender.
The mixing up of the fairy tales happens when the Grimm brothers Will (Will Laurence) and Karl (Jonny Morton) disagree about the direction the show should take and the pages of the stories slip from their hands into a heap on the floor. They never quite get them sorted but that doesn't stop what we see being entertaining.
It takes place on a very distinctive set designed by Andrew Caddies that includes the curiously shaped, magical-looking home of Hansel (Robin Greenwood) and Gretel (Lucia Martins).
The two children are deliberately left lost in the woods by their stepmother (Bethany Hamlin), almost get cooked as food at a chocolate and gingerbread cottage, meet Rumpelstiltskin (Michael Bossisse) who says they will belong to him unless they can guess his name and of course are eventually happily reunited with their father (Ashley Driver). Somewhere in all this, there are also the twelve or more Princesses sneaking off to have a dance.
This production is led by its music that ranges from individually sung fast rap music to songs for multiple voices, most of which gives the cast plenty of opportunities to dance. It is the remarkable choreographed dancing organised by a choreography team that really catches the imagination with groups of dancers often synchronising movements that are confident and lively.
Chickenshed’s Ever After—A Mixed Up Fairytale, an earlier version of which was performed in 2006, is a warm, engaging Christmas feast.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna