Left - Dan Crestani as Rumplestiltskin. Cover - Scott Witt as The Hedgehog and Dan Crestani as The Hare
I have to admit that in my youth I was always something of a fairytale groupie. So it was inevitable that unless something went very, very wrong I was always going to enjoy Queensland Theatre Company’s new production for young and old, Grimm Tales. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how much pleasure, as an adult, I got from this skilful and energetic adaptation.
Adroitly adapted by Scottish poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy and dramatised by English theatre and opera director Tim Supple, Grimm Tales is everything it should be – by turns wondrous and frightening, magical and inventive and very, very funny.
Director Michael Futcher (A Beautiful Life) and assistant director Michelle Miall (Matilda award winning director of The Pillowman) have done a miraculous job pulling this technically complex production together and keeping it focused. With so many elements to control (3 musicians, 7 actors and 9 tales) it could have been a shambles. Far from it, the cast and crew never missed a beat, even with the many character, costume and plot changes.
Initially I had my doubts about whether the good old Cremorne theatre could adequately house the wonderment of Snow White or Hansel and Gretel but happily I was proved wrong. The set by designer Greg Clarke is really something to behold. Half atmospheric forest, half rustic tavern, the set alone made me want to whip out my dog-eared copy of Grimm Tales. And it’s complimented beautifully by David Walters’ magical lighting design.
But now on to the energetic and talented ensemble cast. I’m not even going to try to name all the characters they played, so various were they. With no lead as such I’ll start with the production’s mercurial patriarch, Eugene Gilfedder. Truly the man can act. It’s a gift to be able to make both adults and children laugh at the same joke but Gilfedder pulled it off time and time again. He’s a master of physical comedy – his mischievous “Little Grey Man” had the audience in stitches.
Actor and dancer, Dan Crestani is, as always, fantastic to watch, bringing physicality, strength and a devilish humour to all his characters, particularly Rumpelstiltskin. Also excellent are Lucas Stibbard and Scott Witt. I particularly enjoyed Scott Witt’s hilarious turn as the wiley Hedgehog in The Hare and the Hedgehog.
Emma Pursey impressed with her range and versatility, most notably delivering a deliciously terrifying wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel. Melanie Zanetti and Liz Buchanan also did a fantastic job bringing Snow White to life as Snow White and The Wicked Queen respectively.
Special mention must also be made of musicians Sallie Campbell, Noah Cunningham and Phil Slade. Playing live on stage, Slade’s rousing, woodsy tunes, played on both medieval and modern instruments, had the audience keeping the beat and managed to convey the feeling that we were all gathered in a tavern listening to fireside tales.
Even if you’re not a reader of fairytales, there is so much to enjoy with Grimm Tales. I urge both adults and children to get along and see the show before it closes on the 11th of December – it’s one enchanted evening.
Queensland Theatre Company presents
adapted by Carol Ann Duffy | dramatised by Tim Supple
Director Michael Futcher
Venue: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Dates: 8 November - 11 December 2010
Tickets: $40 - $60 | Under 30: $30 | Under 16: $20 | Family packages (2 Adults + 2 Children): $120 for matinees/previews, $140 for evenings
Bookings: QTIX 136 246 | www.qldtheatreco.com.au
Suitable for ages 9 and up