It is a Grimm world out there if you are a fairy tale heroine. As a university undergraduate, I studied the real tales of Grimm and know for a fact that the pretty, musical world of Disney classic fairy tales is far, far away from the cautionary, fiendish, downright cruel versions that the brothers Grimm assembled at the start of the 1800s.
Last week, the drama department and the Year 10 girls told us the real tales, which included the snipping off of Cinderella’s stepsisters’ toes – by their own mother in order to fit the shoe and Prince Charming setting traps for Cinderella by covering the staircase in thick tar. I must admit that I had forgotten that he did that, when I studied these tales in German.
The sun shone down on the clever cast and the intrigued audience on the night that I went, so all could enjoy the two, outdoor playing spaces. Unlike the London version of this Philip Pullmann adaptation of the tales, which was staged in a Shoreditch warehouse and included lavish sets, we watched, as the girls set their scenes with their hands and their bodies and minimal props. Each member of the cast slipped in and out of roles. All were a chorus of workers, when they were not being a protagonist, dressed in green overalls that concealed a princess ball gown or a horrid witch costume.
I loved the white doves that were two hands, clad in gloves and the magical tree that comprised a series of girls in green, with one in white at its heart. I enjoyed the multitude of accents that the girls used too, as you were sometimes whisked away to the States and other times firmly embedded in the Yorkshire Dales. This made you realise that the whole world has heard these tales. I loved the way the cast became a forest, in which Hänsel and Gretel lost their way and I liked the cool dance numbers, where the fairy tale characters celebrated their good fortune from time to time. The choice of music was, as usual with AGGS drama productions, the perfect scene-setter.
So, a hugely talented cast, magnificent direction, a pretty, leafy setting in beautiful Bowdon. Why not make your way down to this attractive open-air theatre the next time that they stage a delight? As the Brüder Grimm might have said, “Es wird sich bestimmt lohnen” – it will definitely be worth your while.