Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

" A glorious re-working of a classic story"

“Hansel, Gedeon and the Grimms’ Wood” –

Hijinx Theare , Millennium Centre – Weston Studio. , December-07-18
“Hansel, Gedeon and the Grimms’ Wood” – by Hijinx Theare I always love a Hijinx Theatre Christmas show and normally I begin my review stating that it is their show at this time of year that finally gets me in the festive spirit. However, this year “Alice In Wonderland” at the Sherman theatre takes that accolade though that initial period of excitement has faded ( probably due to the weather) and I am in urgent need of a reboot of that “Christmassy feeling”. And guess what, yes, Hijinx Theatre stepped up the mark again. Despite horrendous traffic my wife arrived at the Millennium Centre in time to finally experience the Hijinx Theatre magic first hand.

I loved the programme notes from the writer Llinos Mai stating that she is not a fan of the original Hansel and Gretel story and instead returned to Grimm’s fairy stories to deal with the mysteries of “ The Woods”. This is one of the reasons for Hijinx’s success, they don’t just do standard productions of classic texts, they will look at a familiar story from a different angle. Also, they provide the most sumptuous sets for the packed audience in the Weston Studio to enjoy before “Hansel, Gedeon and the Grimms’Wood” even started. We meet our 2 heroes ( from the title) being read goodnight fairy stories ( with suitably macabre) endings by their loving parents. Once they depart, however, we discover a complete personality difference between the brothers as one is desperate to escape for the confines of the house whilst his brother is happy to be timid and remain in his cosseted surroundings.

Naturally, ( and fortunately for the plot) the adventurous brother has the upper hand leading the siblings into the woods for a variety of weird, funny and scary adventures. The stage may be relatively small but Hijinx manage to fill it with stunning scenery and wonderfully scary puppets bringing some dangerous characters to life. But, the jewels in their crown are always their performers. As well as impressively owning the stage they have joy in their eyes and bodies , from those leading performers to those with smaller parts.

For “Hansel, Gedeon and Grimms’ Wood” to work you must believe in the 2 lead characters. And here they are blessed with Danny Mannings and Matthew Mullins who do extremely well in very big parts and hold the story together. Everybody, however does well and although I hate singling out specific people credit must also go to all the Musicians of Bremen who added a wonderful world-weary surreal energy. As always this is a large cast and director Jon Dafydd-Kidd does extremely well to get everyone on and off stage so smoothly. In fact some of funniest moments occur in those scene changes when members in this cast interact with signer Sami Thorpe in wordless interplay which are beautiful to watch in their simplicity.

As you can tell I was entranced again and most importantly so was my wife, who will return for future shows. Many thanks to all concerned for turning a wet, miserable December evening into a glorious pre Christmas celebration and made me glad I wasn’t next door watching “ Matilda”.

Reviewed by: David Cox

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