Theatre in Wales

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Applause from the London Broadsheets

Hansel & Gretel

Goldfield Productions , Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham , July-10-18
Hansel & Gretel by Goldfield Productions The Times sent Richard Morrison, an excellent critic, to Cheltenham. Morrison is a writer who does not pull his punches. His admiring view is printed in the edition of today, July 10th. Online access subscribers only.

Rhian Evans gave Clive Hicks-Jenkins' production four stars. “In this striking modern update, set to words by Simon Armitage and music by Matthew Kaner, the children are refugees and the fairytale is a nightmare” reads the headline.

In excerpted form:

“Not a sugary dream, but a nightmare in eight scenes: make no bones about poet Simon Armitage’s contemporary retelling of the tale most familiar in the Brothers Grimm version. Hansel and Gretel’s plight becomes that of child refugees, whose parents’ agonising decision is to abandon their offspring to give them their only chance of surviving war.

“...Armitage took his cue from the darkly imaginative illustrations by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who has now translated those original visions into a puppet show with new music by Matthew Kaner. In this premiere performance at the Cheltenham festival, staged by Goldfield Productions, what appeared at first to be a slight, small-scale affair in the end resonated altogether more deeply.

Evans praises the puppeteers Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort and their mastery of “the intimacy of tiny gestures offering expressive detail.”

“...Armitage’s words are the constantly shining white pebbles guiding the piece; his final verbal riff on light and dark will be even better savoured on the published page.

“Narrator Adey Grummet – twice bursting into sung lines – emphasised the mix of humour and satire with the moments of dystopian horror, making this an all too timely reminder of some children’s living, waking, starving nightmare.”

Photograph credit: Spencer McPherson/Still Moving Media

“Hansel and Gretel” continues until 14th November. Venues include Lichfield Festival, Three Choirs Festival, York, Canterbury, Bath, Oxford, Letchworth and the Barbican.

Rian Evans may be read in full at:

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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