Scarlet Theatre, Love and other Fairy Tales

Review in Issue 13-3 | Autumn 2001

What do women really want? This is the question at the heart of Scarlet Theatre’s Love and Other Fairy Tales, a deconstruction of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that places the Wife of Bath as a feminist icon – earthy, intelligent and, it is suggested, the storyteller who fed Chaucer his ideas…

It is interesting that another champion of this character, Alison, was Angela Carter – her essay ‘Alison’s Giggle’ being a mainstay of feminist literary criticism. This seems an appropriate link, for the production is very Carter-esque in both its exploration of the dark side of fairy tales and folk stories, and its challenge to the heroine’s traditional placing in the text as the ‘other’ to whom things are done.

The piece is typical of Scarlet in many ways: using their characteristic multi-layered approach to storytelling, strong ensemble choreography and a simple but effective set design of white panels that evolve from backdrop to building with the clever addition of simple silhouette projections. In other ways, it felt less sure of itself than previous work such as Seagulls or Princess Sharon. The script, by comedy writer Nick Revell, seems occasionally to inhibit the company. The beginning of the show in particular feels a little drawn-out – and not helped by a ‘cantering’ movement motif that is repetitive to the point of tedium. Once we move away from the regular scene-setting dialogue into the magical storytelling at the core of the piece, it feels as if the company suddenly become themselves. A thoughtful, entertaining and provocative piece of theatre.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-3
p. 28