Red Riding Hood

Patrick Prior and Robert Hyman
Theatre Royal Stratford East
(2003)

Lorenzo the Wolf is the slickest, meanest and most brazenly wicked bad-guy in town this Christmas at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. And don't we just love hissing and booing, cheering the goodies on in their moments of peril? This musical version of the fairytale is the best Christmas show I've seen so far and I doubt if there will be one to top it. It is an absolute delight for kids of all ages. Even when asked to sing along to make Lorenzo vomit up Red and her allies, along with the three little piggies, I put my embarrassment in my pocket with my ticket stub and croaked my heart out. It is an entertainment that welds the audience into a community of participants.

Patrick Prior and Robert Hyman have written a version of the story with the scope of a fantasy epic. It is ablaze with colour, awash with talent and replete with fun. The music is inspiring and even the set changes are sensational. Kerry Michael's direction brings all the elements together into a fast-paced, dynamic and visual treat.

Praveen Sond as the beautiful Red is a contemporary heroine with whom we can all identify, her triumph is our triumph, and for an evening it is clear that we are the good-guys too. Peter Straker as Lorenzo is a suitably alluring villain belting out his songs with considerable aplomb and swaggering with confident delight at his deceptions. A host of ancillary characters are played by a truly ensemble cast. Among these Jo Melville's Magradora is thrillingly good.

Red Riding Hood is musical theatre at its finest, pantomime with all the desirable components utilized to their fullest potential and an invigorating evening out for young and old. Don't be an Ebenezer, get down to the Theatre Royal and take all your relatives and friends. It's better than Christmas pud with brandy butter.

"Red Riding Hood" runs until 24th January

Reviewer: Jackie Fletcher