Horla, Grimms II

Review in Issue 15-1 | Spring 2003

The Grimms’ fairystories are grim indeed to dramatise. High on horror and low on subtext, their vivid imagery is hard to stage without looking melodramatic. Yet Alistair Green’s collection is grisly in the profoundest sense. Seemingly naturalistic and utterly credible, his take on these old fairytales peers deep into the heart of humanity.

Each story focuses on the price we pay for sating our darkest desires. ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ mounts to a terrible climax with fate knocking on the door; ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’ punishes a greedy woman for her insatiable materialism, and ‘The Hitchcock Tale’ deals a comeuppance with a powerful twist.

But it is the way Green tells his tales that really engages. Divided into ‘water’ tales and ‘earth’ tales, his stagecraft is thoughtfully attuned to the natural mystery of his stories. The talking fish of the first half speaks from a curious river of hypnotically undulating material, whilst the talking birch tree of the Baba Yaga boasts earthly powers to the extreme, and the sheer energy and ingenuity of the production feels truly magical.

Grimms II is in fact a heady mix of the incredible and the mundane. The knocking on the door is a stamping from actors in each comer of the stage, the seven dwarfs are tiny finger puppets, and Irena Pearse’s Godfather Death is a study in stage presence. Tracy Waller’s inexpensive design of pretty fairy lights and ominous khaki combine with Richard Blanford’s hauntingly minimalist melodies to transform the Rose and Crown pub theatre into an ambitious small-scale celebration of dance, puppetry and music. Poor but purposeful, innovative but accessible, this show transfigures the commonplace.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-1
p. 28