"Eerie, atmospheric, fab first production"
by Cheryl Rowlands for remotegoat on 21/06/17

Created in late 2016, this is the Company’s first ever production at the quaint Alma Tavern Theatre and was the first night of the run.

As you entered the auditorium, the stage was simply set as a woodland cottage with flags, buckets and brooms and this would be the scene for the Woodman’s Cottage, The Witch’s Cottage and the wood where Hansel & Gretel were left alone. Woodland sound effects of owls hooting and animals screeching plus ambient lighting set the atmosphere.

Although each half was approximately 25 minutes long, a 15-minute interval was added to allow everyone to cope with the intense heat, with which the cast worked through admirably, joined by a small but appreciative audience who also braved the sweltering heat of the tiny theatre.

The cast and crew are made up of seven people, with a cast of four in this production. There was a short introduction by Artistic Director Jack Turner, aided by fellow crew members, Sophie Maindonald (Assistant Director) and George Pykov (Technical Support).

It was a delightfully simple set with flags and buckets and brooms. No scene changes. Snapping of fingers to change focus.

John Gordon and Lottie Elcoate took the title roles of the brother and sister in this dark tale by the Brothers Grimm, adapted to great effect by Artistic Director, Jack Turner.

I loved the Step-Mother/Witch – both played to great effect by Martha Holly. As the Stepmother, she was stern and harsh and by complete contrast beautifully sang a lovely song: "Growing". Later, dressed as the Witch, she wore a cute little blouse with gingerbread men and gingerbread houses on it along with Christmas trees, etc, and round red sunglasses to symbolise the witch’s weak, bleary red eyes. Her witch’s laugh was demonic. Lovely characterisations on both counts.

There were modern touches such as the national news bulletins and music from the children’s signing programme “Vision On”.

There were some lovely comic moments which I won’t spoil for prospective audience members by mentioning here.

Wonderfully eerie and atmospheric music – all in all a lovely sound-track. Reminded me of The Woman in Black.

Mr Fox gave Hansel and Gretel a lift on his boat, enabling them to find their way home back to their cottage and back into the loving arms of their (now widowed) Father played by Lee Gibbard.
“And they all lived Happily Ever After!”

A tiny suggestion: sometimes it was difficult to hear dialogue above the sound effects as they were quite loud and the play area was small, so the sound could be turned down a touch, but it was an extremely enjoyable production and the cast did well in such intense heat.

The run is on until the end of the week (Friday, 27th June), Curtain Up at 7pm – please go along and give them your full support!

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