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Dark humour invigorates familiar fables ; a review

Nationwide News Pty. Ltd
Publication Date
  • 190404 Drama Theatre And Performance Studies
  • Grimm Tales
  • Computer Science
  • Design
  • Musicology


THEATRE: Grimm Tales. By Carol Ann Duffy and Tim Supple. Queensland Theatre Company, Brisbane. November 16. QUEENSLAND Theatre Company concludes its season with Grimm Tales, Carol Ann Duffy and Tim Supple's adaptation of classic cautionary tales as set down by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century. This programming decision is clearly designed to present fun family entertainment as Christmas approaches. In Grimm Tales, well-known stories such as Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin pack a little more punch than in your standard picture book. Duffy and Supple's play is by no means the sort of poetic, postmodern or politicised adaptation of the fairytale we see from writers such as Angela Carter, and it is not intended to be subversive or to question the social and gender assumptions that underpin the tales. Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. Rather, a return to the grislier original incarnations of the tales - the wicked stepsisters who lop off parts of their feet to fit the slipper and win the prince, or the hare so confused by the hedgehog's stratagem to make him think he is losing the race, he runs himself to death - has a comic effect. In this production, directed by Michael Futcher, heightened performances from some of Brisbane's best comic and physical actors, live music and an open, acknowledged relationship with the audience establish the atmosphere for the piece. While the production is a little sombre and slow to start with the first tale, Hansel and Gretel, the knowingness and almost slapstick quality with which the cast plays out the gruesome, scatological or silly moments in the other tales are well pitched to carry the comedy. The action is supported by a fantastic set by Greg Clarke of wooden planked walls, stairs and walkways which, with the help of David Walter's lighting design, is transformed into forests, ballrooms and castles as the cast moves up, over and under it. The overall highlight is probably the cast Futcher has brought together. Established QTC actors Eugene Gilfedder, Lucas Stibbard and Scott Witt, and emerging QTC actor Melanie Zanetti, join Liz Buchanan, Dan Crestani and Emma Pursey, all well known for their independent work in Brisbane but making their mainstage debut for the QTC. Every one of them metamorphoses with ease from character to character, human to animal, and central player to support. There is nothing particularly new in Grimm Tales, and it doesn't try to do anything more (or, indeed, less) than entertain, but skilful direction and a strong cast ensure it succeeds on those terms.

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