If you go down to the woods today…
With that fateful word ‘immersive’ being all too familiar these days, Grimm Tales similarly jumps in on the action pitching itself as an ‘immersive fairytale’. In reality, it’s more of an elaborate promenade performance as we are led around the incredibly transformed Bargehouse into the magical land of fairytales.
And in this land of fairytales, we are in safe hands. At least, safe literary hands, with Philip Pullman’s adaptation of the Grimms’ 19th century classic tales of morality, love and of woe serving as source material for Philip Wilson’s ambitious production.
Whether you are familiar with your more obscure fairytales or lean more on the side of the traditional, what is endlessly enjoyable about the chosen tales is their strange familiarity, as characters, themes and life lessons emerge to share their origins with their audience.
Shrouded in an elaborate fur coat, a beautiful young girl escapes the all-too amorous clutches of her father to work as a kitchen maid in the king’s house where, crashing his frequent balls, Thousandfurs finds herself the more willing recipient of advances. Always keep your promises, so The Frog King teaches us, as a foolish young girl uses and abuses the kindness of a frog in a well – but he has a favour he would like to redeem. Strawberries can grow in the summer, as we learn in The Three Little Men in the Woods, but only if you ask nicely, be hard-hearted and you’ll soon find a frog in your throat. And we all know the moral of Hansel and Gretel – don’t take sweets from strangers or you end up in a cage.
Brought to life by a vibrant ensemble, expert lean-in storytelling and an intricately designed and realised vision of a fantastical fairytale realm, with woodchip floors and cascades of lights, eerie photos and wedding dresses, Grimm Tales leads you by the hand and immerses you in its world.
It’s no tall tale that tickets come in at a whopping £45 but if you can stomach the price tag, you’ll be in for an evening of imagination prodding and childlike discovery in a magical venue.
Grimm Tales is performed until 15 February at:
Oxo Tower Wharf
Image: Paul Clerkin and Megan Salter. Photo: Tom Medwell