London is awash with places to go and experience incredible theatre. From musicals on the West End to epic productions at the Old Vic and performances of the Bard’s greatest work at London’s Globe, there’s an abundance of stuff to see right on your doorstep and I’m consistently in awe of what’s on offer. Recently, I was offered the chance to pop along to see “an immersive fairytale” – a production of Grimm Tales for Young and Old at Bargehouse, OXO Tower and I, somewhat inevitably, said yes with minimal hesitation.
Based on Philip Pullman’s re-writing of Grimm’s fairytales, this production is spread over several floors and as soon as you enter the building, you’re immediately transported to another world. In that world, characters from some of the best known fairytales are waiting for you, all itching to tell you their stories. Darkness and shadows combine with everyday objects and familiar fairytale tokens to create an atmospheric setting for a theatre experience where the action unfolds around you.
Audiences huddle around to hear the story of Thousandfurs, a princess on the run from her father’s ill-conceived plans for her marriage, meet the Three Little Men in the Woods who bestow gifts upon a kindly guest, discover how The Frog King came to inhabit a well rather than a castle, follow Faithful Johannes as he endeavours to keep a dying kings last wish and witness Hansel and Gretel’s discovery of a house made with the sweetest foundations.
While the stories are fairly familiar, Grimm Tales offers a really unique retelling of the classics and introduces a few new elements, while being shepherded quickly from one performance space to another makes the whole scenario feel somewhat like a dream. The bizarre set, which you’re given the opportunity to explore at the end of the performance, just adds to this feeling. While the performance was not as immersive as similar projects and my suspension of disbelief was disturbed by the interval, this production is still a complete spectacle and one I’d recommend to anyone, especially to those who haven’t witnessed the madness of the likes of Punchdrunk.
I thoroughly enjoyed Grimm Tales. It’s worth keeping in mind this show is, as the title suggests, for people of all ages, so it’s perhaps not quite as dark and twisty as it could have been. I’d have loved to see one of the Grimm brother’s darker fairytales on the bill to match the eerie setting a bit more acutely but I was captivated by the skill of the entire cast, who were without a single weak link. The set was incredible and poking around at the end was the cherry on the top of a real treat of an evening.
Once again, I was reminded how glorious the capital really is – especially when I got home and checked out this picture on my camera.
Grimm Tales is on at OXO Bargehouse until 11th April. Tickets start from £45
*I was invited along to Grimm Tales and received a pair of free tickets (lucky Chris, eh?) to blog about the show, but as ever, you’re looking at an honest review from me. Banging production photos from Tom Medwell, the less good ones are mine.