Hansel & Gretel Tobacco Factory 8/10
THIS is an intriguing production that makes wonderful use of the actors' native languages, Spanish, Norwegian, Swiss, and English, and their musical skills which match their dramatic abilities. Like many other "fairy stories" the tale of Hansel and Gretel is by no means all sweetness and light. It is cruel with the unfeeling step-mother bullying the weak father to abandon the children in the forest, full of danger as the wicked witch attempts to kill and eat Hansel and Gretel, bravery as they make good their escape and redemption when they are reunited with their remorseful father.
All of that is highly dramatic stuff and with a mixture of skilful mime, use of a wide range of musical instruments and excellent creation of characters, the five strong cast have you sitting at times on the edge of your seats. They also are no mean hands at timing a comedy line creating some lovely moments of verbal humour. There is a slight drawback in that a great deal of that comedy, some of the very clever staging, and use of bursts of foreign language may be a bit too sophisticated for the lower end of the recommended audience age of six-plus. Add a few years and you have a production guaranteed to fascinate any audience.
Director Alex Byrne makes fine use of the Tobacco Factory space, enhanced by Anna Barrett's lighting, to give Unai Lopez De Armentia, Stephanie Mueller,Mia Hawk, Rew Lowe, and Carly Davies the best of frames to work in and they take full advantage of the opportunities laid before them.