Hansel and Gretel

Phil Porter and Paul King , with music by Duncan Wisbey
Produced by The Core at Corby Cube
The Cube, Corby
(2010)

Hansel and Gretel production photo

The newest production in the newest theatre in the UK - The Core Theatre in Corby is part of the new Corby Cube and Hansel and Gretel is the debut production in this modern but traditionally laid out Theatre.

And what a debut! This is a show that is quirky and kitsch - a performance that had the audience clapping and laughing throughout; full of energy and fun, it was a great show with a fully committed cast.

This was a Hansel and Gretel story you have perhaps never heard. A Hansel who is so stupid he can't remember his sister's name, a father who doubles as a water spraying comedy chef and a leading Bat from Glasgow!

There were many strange and unsettling moments in the piece, yet it just seemed to work in bringing a bit of warmth to freezing Corby. It didn't matter that the shadow puppet Spectre seemed scarily out of place - everyone (including the children) seemed to be convinced.

The attention to small details made this production particularly memorable. The three-piece band (added to with actor/musicians) formed an almost Tiger Lilly style musical backdrop to the performance that added to the dark undertones shown throughout.

A style of comedy meeting the gothic was also shown through the Doofers - a collection of community actors, resembling gothic punks - who skipped and hopped in and out of the show like naughty imps appearing in the darkness.

The characters were all quite cartoon like - Lucy Thatcher's Witch/Mrs Wicker were like a Disney painting of a baddy. Miltos Yerolemou multi-rolled his way through some excellent comic creations - the best of which was Rory a RAF style superhero bird!

The team behind the performance have obviously collaborated with a shared vision - from Alison Hefferman's colourful but functional design through to the excellent, comic music by composer Duncan Wisbey.

The songs were catchy, if simple, but each seamlessly dropped into the script, fitting the characters and story without disrupting what was happening on stage. The finale to act one upon finding the house worked particularly well.

This is an entertaining and lively show that created a fun atmosphere within this new building. Hansel and Gretel is something slightly different for Christmas that I am sure will delight those visiting and experiencing the Corby Cube for the first time.

"Hansel & Gretel" plays until Sunday 26th December 2010

Reviewer: John Johnson