There’s ben quite a run of more whimsical fare at the Everyman and Playhouse recently, what with the Rock’n’Roll panto; the Spike Milligan effort and wonderful The 39 Steps.
The latest is Hansel and Gretel, recently transferred from the Old Vic, where it played in the Christmas panto slot. So there’s not a huge change of tone, but there’s a slightly more knockabout quality to this new production by Kneehigh.
Kneehigh’s stuff, I would suggest, is slightly marmite in that it is very theatrical, in the truest sense of the word. At times it’s a little self-consciously wacky and the actors are never that short of mugging their way through lines, but this is essentially a production for children after all.
It works just as well for big kids, however, and I loved the Mousetrap-like (the game, not the play) mechanical tricks that are scattered through the narrative.
It’s all very silly and enjoyable, but it’s carried off by a confident and amusing cast. I particularly liked Giles King as a South American condor and Stu Barker as the wavering-voiced Hansel.
A greek chorus in the shape of two rabbits also adds another dimension, and the wonderful music reminiscent of the Eastern European folk music from which the tale derives.
All in all, great fun. A pleasingly grotesque and amusing tale, carried off with real energy and enough wit in execution to maintain the attention.