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REVIEW: Into the Woods on the Theatre Royal, Tub



 

The mixture of Stephen Sondheim’s extraordinary rating (lower than a yr after his dying), Terry Gilliam’s outlandish inventive concepts, Leah Hausman’s in depth operatic motion and choreography, a solid with the Julian Bleach recreating the weirdness of The Grinning man and Audrey Brisson fascinating us as she did in Amelie, the evocative staging of a Pollock’s Toy Theatre and the wonderful setting of the intimate Theatre Royal Tub mix on this manufacturing of Into the Woods in theatrical alchemy to create an exquisite celebration of this superb composer. Sondheim’s music might be one thing of an acquired style, however as soon as acquired the enjoyment by no means leaves you. Although the songs should not as memorable as these from Gypsy or Sweeney Todd, there’s a fantastic tongue-in-cheek pleasure to the mash-up of conventional well-known fairy-tale tales and its commentary on the human situation with its themes of rising up, morality and need fulfilment. This model doesn’t appear so macabre as I recollect it, though nearly all of characters do die, the staging and childlike setting of the toy theatre give it a extra partaking emotional connection in order that the ultimate songs of “No One is Alone” and “Kids Ought to Pay attention” are rather more touching and significant.

Gilliam’s inventive stamp is all through the present with moments paying homage to his Monty Python animations and his extra outlandish motion pictures. The dressed proscenium arch and forestage which mirrors Pollock’s toy theatre centre stage instantly set the tone as you enter the venue. The younger lady taking part in with it, putting the tin cans and vases on stage brings you into her world of creativeness earlier than she invitations you to look at the present. The delightfully comedian Milky White (performed with nice physicality by Religion Prendergast) seems to be and acts just like the lady’s toy. The Baked Bean tin turns into Rapunzel’s tower and the 2nd units seem like they’ve been lower out of the Toy Theatre equipment. Using the stage left field within the false proscenium for the Stepsisters (Charlotte Jaconelli and Jamie Birkett) can be very efficient. When the Big arrives, it’s a cross between the Monty Python big foot and the terrifying doll’s head from Toy Story. Visually it is beautiful in its theatricality and creativity.
The weird plot sees the Baker (Rhasan Stone) and his spouse (Alex Younger) being despatched into the woods to discover a cow as white as milk, a cape as pink as blood (from Purple Using Hood, Lauren Conroy), hair as yellow as corn (Rapunzel’s, Maria Conneely) and a slipper as pure as gold (Cinderella’s, Brisson) in three days with the intention to elevate the curse of infertility which the Witch has set (Nicola Hughes). As within the conventional pantomime variations of those tales all get satisfactorily resolved however right here it’s achieved by the interval and the second half sees all of it unravel as the implications resolve. The inevitable comparisons with the normal Christmas reveals are usually averted and the manufacturing has the texture of a morality story however with loads of comedian moments.

Julian Bleach’s eerie white-faced narrator dressed as a Victorian undertaker or the grim reaper strikes stealthily round, peering round flats, hovering within the background till he’s thrown to the Big complaining “I simply inform the story, I’m not a part of the plot”! The 2 Princes are glorious with Henry Jenkinson because the flamboyant lothario Prince to Cinderella (“I’m charming, not honest”) and Nathanael Campbell because the extra caring Rapunzel’s Prince (and doubling up because the voracious Wolf). Collectively they benefit from their tune “Agony” and its reprise which for me was a present spotlight. Cinderella’s Prince and The Baker’s spouse have their “Second within the Woods” to good impact. One other of the perfect moments is available in Sondheim’s difficult “Your Fault” because the survivors Jack (Barney Wilkinson), Cinderella, the Baker, Little Purple Using Hood and the Witch argue about who has prompted the mayhem they’ve simply witnessed.

One way or the other the characters appear to have extra depth than I recall in earlier variations, so we join with them and emotionally have interaction with their actions whether or not the youthful innocence of Jack, Little Purple Using Hood or Cinderella or the outrageous behaviour of the 2 Princes and Baker’s spouse. Rapunzel too, together with her shorn hair giving her the look of Fantine in Les Depressing, presents a visual distinction between the lady within the tower and the crazed girl within the woods.

 

It is a fantastic reimagining of Sondheim’s distinctive discordant work brilliantly staged and really nicely acted and sung that sits completely on the Theatre Royal Tub’s stage. It runs in Tub till tenth September. It deserves to be extra broadly seen and a West Finish switch have to be within the playing cards in 2023 however I hope to an appropriately sized venue, so it doesn’t lose its intimacy. A few of Sondheim’s music particularly this present, divides opinion however I urge you to go see it, even if you’re unsure concerning the tunes, for a visually very good reimaging that may be a splendidly becoming tribute to this nice composer.


Overview by Nick Wayne 


Score: ★★★★

Seat: Royal Circle, Row D | Value of Ticket: £44.50 

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