Tag Archives: Grimm brothers

The Elves and the Shoemaker

reviewed at the Avenue Theatre, Ipswich on 9 December

“When she is good…” Red Rose Chain tends to run to the extremes of the little girl in the rhyme, but this Christmas show deserves high marks. The Grimm Brothers’ story of the elves who come to the rescue of an old shoemaker is adapted and updated by director Joanna Carrick and has an imagination-stirring set by Carrick and David Newborn.

We are in the small town of Elvedon (which does actually exist on the Suffolk-Norfolk border).  The central character is Elvira (Emma Swan), who yearns to update her father (Ryan Penny)’s outdated styles and stock, which scarcely attract a single customer.

Her best friend is Frank (Darren Latham), a baker by trade, though one much exploited by his employer Mrs Battenberg. She is also pursued by the brash, know-the-cost-of-everything son of the ruthless Esmeralda Overdrive. Between the Overdrive shopping Mall and fashionistas, Lovelace Shoes is on its last legs.

That’s until the titular elves arrive and overnight make up one of Elvira’s designs. Then the shop bell starts ringing again – and so do the tills. Penny and Latham play the elves and all the grind’em’down characters, which necessitates some very quick costume changes.

Of the “nasties”, Esmeralda and her imitation pop-star son rival Battenberg in the unpleasant stakes. Never were custard-pies more properly placed! The elves too receive their just reward in the shape of new outfits which will enable them to train as Santa Claus’ helpers.

It’s not too long for the smaller audience members and has a script which makes literate sense for the older ones. There’s a gentle bit of audience participation but that (and the custard pies apart) it’s all mercifully free and pantomime gags. As I said – top marks!

Five star rating.

The Elves and the Shoemaker runs at the Avenue Theatre, Ipswich until 31 December. Performance times vary, so check with the theatre’s website:www.redrosechain.com for seat availability.

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Filed under Family & children's shows, Pantomimes & Christmas season shows, Reviews 2017

Snow White & Rose Red

(reviewed at the Cambridge Junction on 10 December 2015)

The fairy and folk tales collected by the brothers Grimm in the early 19th century may form the basis for many a pantomime and children’s play but they are not always as sunny – nor are the endings always happy ones – as stage and film cartoon adaptations suggest. RashDash’s riff on the story of Snow White and her sister Rose Red makes this clear.

It’s this year’s Christmas show for family audiences at the Cambridge Junction and makes the contrast between the sisters very clear. Snow White (Helen Goalen) is the gentle and loving sibling, but a girl who can dig in her moral heels when required. Rose Red (Abbi Greenland) is altogether more tomboy, not to say downright butch, itching to get out there and do something.

The trigger for their adventures is a bear (Tom Penn) who comes calling in the course of a quest and who immediately elicits Snow White’s sympathies. The sisters encounter a very small man with a very long beard (Ed Wren), who is not as nice or as helpful as he pretends.

Presiding over it all is the snow angel (Becky Wilkie all glitter and misty grey) and there’s a good use of an over-worked fairy helper cum stage manager (Laura Page). The music is by Penn, Wren and Wilkie who preside over a battery of guitars, drums and keyboard.

In the end the bear resumes his human shape as Robert and joins his soul-mate Snow White. Shorn of that straggling facial hair, the very small man turns out to be a quite personable Graham. But Rose Re makes it clear that she prefers girls. It’s all engaging enough, though it could do with considerable cutting, notably of the first half.

Snow White & Rose Red plays at the Cambridge Juntion until 31 December.

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Filed under Pantomimes & seasonal shows, Reviews 2015