The Grandmothers Grimm

August 9, 2019 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆    Enjoyably illuminating

Paradise in The Vault (Venue 29): Sat 3– Sat 17 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

Literate and relevant, playful and serious, The Grandmothers Grimm at Paradise in The Vault is an involving, thought-provoking and extremely enjoyable hour.

Some Kind of Theatre’s exploration of the stories collected by the brothers Grimm, and in particular the role played by women in that process, features several of those stories – as well as a newly written one – in a script by Emily Ingram.

The Pig Prince. Pic: Fiona Knight

The Grimms’ collection has of course informed European children’s tales for many years. And, while some in recent times have sought to excise the violence, there is little doubt that the brothers themselves practised a great deal of censorship. There has also – particularly since the blessed Angela Carter – been a reexamination of such folklore from a feminist perspective.

What sounds like it could be a rather dry exploration of the creative process is itself unfailingly creative, as Ingram and co-director Christopher Paddon have fashioned an inventive and visually appealing production, making excellent use of minimal props and a tiny space to create a production of huge variety and great fun. Some important points about the nature of authorship and the habitual sidelining of female creators are nevertheless made, but never laboured.

a performance of energy and drive

Jenny Quinn is Marie Hassenplug, one of the sources for many of the tales, and whose role in the play is arguably more central than that of the brothers. If her dialogue occasionally strikes an oddly modern note – such as complaining about the lack of ‘agency’ for female characters in the stories – the character is an arresting one, given life by Quinn in a performance of energy and drive.

The Sleeping Princess. Pic: Fiona Knight

The Grimms are decidedly problematic characters here, with their motivations and methods more than a little troubling. Gerry Kielty and Justin Skelton not only demonstrate this by portraying recognisable humans with desires and foibles, but (like the others) enact the stories with versatility and ingenuity.

Ingram herself took over the role of Old Marie, the Grimms’ housekeeper, from Imogen Reiter at this performance and – while it is a shame to miss a-performer of Reiter’s gifts – Ingram is a more than capable substitute.

This is an example of a production where the mix between literary inspiration and theatrical creation, between outside concerns and sheer good fun, is just right.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
Paradise in The Vault, 11 Merchant St, EH1 2QD (Venue 29)
Saturday 3 – Saturday 17 August 2019
Daily (not Sun 11) at 9.15 pm
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/grandmothers-grimm

Website: www.somekindoftheatre.co.uk
Facebook: @somekindoftheatre
Instagram: @somekindoftheatre
Twitter: @SKOTheatre

ENDS

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