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Vermaak | Entertainment > Teater | Theatre > Resensies | Reviews

A sumptuous feast of fantasy

Anton Krueger - 2007-10-31

Now showing at The Market Theatre, until 16 December 2007

Adapted by Tim Supple
Directed by Craig Higginson

Fairy tales have a bad name. Associated today largely with Walt Disney DVDs hired when a babysitter can't be bought, they've generally been cutesified to sanitise them for the under sixes. And yet, as we know, fairy tales are not only about cheerful piglets and fluffy bunnies. They can also involve mothers who want to abandon their offspring, wolves who want to swallow little girls, and a panoply of robbers, villains, monsters, trolls and a myriad other representations of the shadow mind.

It's been speculated that one of the reasons why it may be healthy for the young ones to watch such horror is that it allows them to overcome their own fears, to become imaginatively victorious over cruel parents and arbitrary authorities. Besides having their imaginations stimulated, being exposed to fairytales may allow children to become more free. Opposite me I saw a young boy whose face would occasionally contort into an involuntary grimace and behind him another's older brother, embarrassed, tried in vain to stop his young ward from clapping too much. But the kids won this round, and no sensible adult in the room quite managed to contain them.

But Tim Supple's adaptation of Grimm's tales (which was first staged at the Old Vic in London) was written in such a way as to also allow older generations access to the poetry of the tales. Under the careful direction of Craig Higginson the production succeeds admirably in creating a transporting world for all ages. It's a sumptuous feast of colour and music, an occasionally frightening version of the stories, which manages to convey both their richly metaphoric allusions and many of their whimsical ironies.

A mesmerising cast features Daniel Buckland, the eternal boy, and Helen Iskander, who manages both the innocence of Gretel and the bizarre sinister absurdity of Rumpelstilskin. Mncedisi Shabangu creates a wolf one fears even as one laughs at his wily ways.

This is a production which deserves to run. Both enthusiastic adult word-of-mouth, and the sheer exuberant delight of the little blond girl turning cartwheels in the Foyer of the Market Theatre after the show are indications that it will.