Grimm Tales at Shoreditch Town Hall
Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales, an immersive, promenade piece that guides you through the eerie underground halls of Shoreditch Town Hall – the perfect setting for these traditional tales to be bought to life by an animated, fluid, intuitive ensemble.
Firstly, it is essential that the magnificent set design is recognised. It is traditional, clever, intriguing and detailed. Tom Rodgers convinces us with the simplest costume hint, and takes us deep into a vintage world of children’s tales. The hanging, exposed lights (complete with a complementary design by Howard Hudson) haunt and tease you. The background sound by Richard Hammarton maintains tension, immediately sets the scene and is delicate and comprehensive. The design team have clearly collaborated to create the ever-moving space that is so in tune with the scripts and stories; from floor to ceiling, it’s beyond impressive.
Transported from room to room, you experience five stories presented by two teams of ensembles. The stories, including well known Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, are still very much applicable to children but accessible to the older audience in attendance with dark hints and clarity. They are clear and energised, engaging and clever. Paul Clerkin’s despairing farmer, Rebecca Bainbridge’s sexually suppressed maid, James Byng’s emotional bird, Simon Wegrzyn’s charming Wolf (and later half boy and half hedgehog!) are full of character and panache, as are the rest of the ensemble with their ever-changing characters and stealing of each others’ lines to push each story to its eagerly anticipated conclusion.
The production is playful and balanced. You are invited to wander the set post-show, where stories and words are plastered on the walls. The director Philip Wilson has thought of everything in this adaptation by the celebrated author Philip Pullman: “they were originally told orally, not written down, so a dramatic production seems like a return to their origin.” How right they are.
Grimm Tales is at Shoreditch Town Hall until 24th April 2014. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.