The Hunters Grimm at The Albany
The prospect of spending an evening on the streets of Deptford, led by enthusiastic theatre folk in character as princes and witches, might not seem like the brightest of ideas. But there’s something freeing in the way the The Hunters Grimm lays its stake to the pubs and shops of south London.
Starting out in the foyer of the Deptford Lounge – an area cordoned off by screens has been turned into “Story HQ” – and ending up just a few minutes away at the The Albany, the theatre experience takes place on Deptford’s street corners, inside pubs, and outside butcher’s shops with a variety of characters to greet you at each location.
Based on the stories of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the audience is tasked with finding a happy story to pull beleaguered Wilhelm out of his spiral into darkness. The stories themselves aren’t hard to find: occasionally they’re are told by the characters in a traditional way, sometimes they play out before the audience’s eyes, and often there’s a mixture of performance and traditional exposition, but they all highlight the complete lack of happy endings in the Grimm stories.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 200 years, it’s likely you’ll recognise at least a handful of the characters: Snow White and Hansel and Gretel occasionally make way for some lesser known stories about sentient sausages and poorly made shoes, but for the most part, there’ll be nothing too groundbreaking in the plots of these short fairy tales.
They have however been updated somewhat to fit with the modern setting. Cinderella’s prince has been recast as hapless Chelsea boy, while Snow White’s wicked stepmother is now a cougar on the hunt for a new “urban” look to maintain her youthful appearance. As you might have guessed, dragging these stories into the 21st century has variable mileage, with some characters reaching a village panto level of cringe. There’s something about namedropping current events that inevitably reeks of desperation.
If you’re expecting high theatre, you’ll be disappointed with The Hunters Grimm, but there’s something appealing about the adventure on offer down in Deptford. Audience participation is encouraged, and the actors do a fantastic job of riffing off on the offerings of the crowd and even the people loitering on the streets. The writing doesn’t quite know who it’s aimed for – the website claims it’s an evening for adults, though there’s little that would be inappropriate for mature nine or ten-year-olds – but it’s an interesting take on some well loved stories.
Joe Manners Lewis
The Hunters Grimm is at The Albany until 8th November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.