Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood  Theatre Royal Stratford east.  This afternoon Dec 30th 2010

                    The production actually started on time with a trio of performance arts pigs warming up the holiday audience  with lots of sing- songs, obligatory shouting, clowning around and prompts to shout.  The mood was set.

                     The Wolf   (Michael Bertenshaw) and Granny  (Derek Elroy)  are shocking and delightful . I would have been happy for the pair of them to carry on playing to us mesmerised ones. They look like the grown up actors in a budget sixth form end of year spoof.  With ‘ Glee’  and ‘ X Factor’  and  ‘Britain’s Got Talent’  we are used to wannabees popping up and showing off.  It was a bit like that with the rest of the cast; a solo spot here and a music mic  there.  It also takes confidence and experience to pull in an audience or maybe today’s audience was slow to respond.

The music is fantastic. Elroy’s singing voice is lovely.

             There is much to commend the performance. Often there are excellent choreographed sets with agile actors displaying their craft. The attempt at a pentecostal church gathering  is miserable and lacking joy despite Atkinson’s energy. The costumes are interesting. The lighting and effects are superb. At one crucial point the Wolf takes on King Kong’s scale. The children in the audience hide under scarves and coats. Here we have a taste of the true darkness of fairy tales. Short-lived because what follows next is a waste of time.

               After the interval Red Riding Hood meets Alien, meets Dr Who, seemingly meets Arts Grant funding criteria, maybe,  where demonstrating the internal goings- on of a Big Bad Wolf’s stomach is deemed educational and worthy.  Who knows what the paying audience made of it?  Where’s the axe whan you need it?

               Overall it is a great afternoon show.  Recommended. Something to look at, something to be puzzled about, a challenge to follow as the deviation from the path takes us into the variation on a tale. Bravo to Chloe and her red hood to die for. Perfect in his acting Marcus Ellard is on his way up. There are special offers on tickets at the moment. Open Stage 2012  volunteers are there to meet you and invite you to prepare next year’s pantomime.  And recognising all the extra characters who hide behind doors and trees like squirrel and baby owl I applaud the blatantly obvious Beyonce-inspired foxy dancer who is unable to steal this particular show. Very very watchable.

                    I never knew until today that the panto is described in places other than Stratford as “the black Red Riding Hood”. White Narnia’s on over the road.

Just want to thank Corinne at Stratford management and Joy at Words of Colour. Never had the best seat in the house ever!

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