The True Story of Hansel and Gretel – Smock Alley – Review – DTF

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel credit - Ross Kavanagh V4

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel (Theatre Lovett): 4 – 11 Oct, Smock Alley Theatre

As you descend into the depths of the Boys’ school in Smock Alley, you are already submerged in the world of Hansel and Gretel. As you pass along the corridor, you meet Gretel stirring her bowl and gazing upon you with a sly grin. Once you enter the main space, two of the musicians are already on stage. The set is filled with shelves which carry bowls and jars, reminiscent of an ancient bakery or pantry. And so the stage is set for this tale of hunger, greed and sugar, all set in Germany a long, long time ago.

This is a tale told through story and song. Over the course of the performance, the musicians use accordions, a saw and a variety of percussion instruments. There are also a number of singers, and a small choir that appear on the balconies above the stage.

The true story of Hansel and Gretel is quite different from the tale you already know! While there is a mention of witches, it is brief and the story takes a different route, which is slightly less sinister than the traditional one, but no less unusual. The original Brothers’ Grimm version was first published in 1812 and is about two young siblings who stumble upon a witches house, which is made out of cake in the middle of the forest. The witch from this fairy tale does appear, but the tale itself is based around a baker and his fabulous new creation, which is a ‘sweet salt’ now known as sugar. This is in a world before such delights exist, and the cake is sold for its medicinal purposes rather than for pleasure. At the behest of their mother who wants the kids to be strong enough for this cruel world, our heroes venture into the forest to meet the baker who is responsible for these tasty morsels.

The play is said to be suitable for ages 12 plus, and in truth it may struggle to find an audience as it is not aimed specifically at children or adults. The cast is quite massive for such a small space and they take the risk of using a number of younger (child) performers, who all account themselves well, especially in the singing parts. The music plays an important part in the work and is quite enjoyable. The story does jump around and is not always easy to follow, but the piece does create some striking visual imagery and the interesting staging adds depth to this quirky tale.

Creative Team
Written by Louis Lovett
Directed by Muireann Ahern and Louis Lovett

Cast: Martin Brunsden, Clara Harte, Raymond Keane, Louis Lovett, Amelie Metcalfe, Michele Moran, Joseph McCarthy, Barry Grenham

Chorus:  Isabel Costa Macedo, Charlene Craig,  Rachael Hanaphy-Pigott, Cherley Kane, Donncha McDonagh, Max O’Neill.

Set and Lighting Design by Zia Holly | Costume Design by Liadain Kaminska | Make Up Artist Lorraine McCrann | Music by Louis Lovett and Nico Brown | Produced by Muireann Ahern | Project Administrator Charlene Craig | Prop Maker and Scenic Artist Molly O’Cathain | Stage Manager Mary Kilduff | Assistant Stage Manager Soazig Metrope | Production Manager Aidan Wallace and Peter Jordan

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