Chopsy Baby Says: “Another Epic Win From The Tobacco Factory Theatre.”
Last year’s Christmas show at the Tobacco Factory Theatre was so amazing, we declared it impossible to see a Christmas show so fantastic ever again. In fact, the wonderful Cinderella: A Fairy Tale from the Tobacco Factory Theatre and Travelling Light, has found a home for Christmas this year at St James Theatre in London.
Over recent years, Bristol audiences have been treated to perfect shows at the Factory. The winning formula included top talent such as Felix Hayes, Craig Edwards, Saikat Ahamed and Lucy Tuck, with awesome production and direction from Travelling Light.
This year the Factory is working with New International Encounter (NIE) to create 2012/13’s festive show Hansel and Gretel. The production was originally developed at Battersea Arts Centre with NIE and The Junction and played in Cambridge over Christmas 2011.
For the South Bristol arts crowd in particular, the production meets the high standards and components we would expect from a Christmas show at this theatre.
Whether it is as good as last year’s show becomes irrelevant. The Factory, instead of trying to beat themselves as the best, has taken a fresher direction.
For the Factory regulars, the production retains its wonderfully entertaining and traditional approach to telling a good story.
Hansel and Gretel weaves a dark tale, suitably lightened by an incredibly fast and witty script. The wonderfully dark hallmarks of the Brothers Grimm are present, and between moments of mild horror, resourcefulness and love wins through.
How could a father take his two children into the middle of the forest and leave them there? Twice. The answer comes in the force of Mia Hawk’s truly terrifying Stepmother.
The cast establish right at the beginning that she is not the kind of step mother that picks children up at the weekend and drops them back on a Monday. No. She’s a horror, and it’s a surprise to read that this is Hawk’s first appearance on stage. She commands it so effortlessly with trombone and anguished spiels of Norwegian.
And this is one of the reasons why this show is so brilliant. It’s bilingualism, integrated into the dialogue is somehow perfectly easy to understand. Along with the original folk music arranged by Carly Davies, culturally rich depths are brought to this production.
Hansel, played by Unai Lopez de Armentia and Gretel by Stefanie Mueller, are an epic win as the innocent and resourceful siblings.
Rew Lowe as the Father, with Mia Hawk’s Stepmother, have the Basil and Sybil Fawltyesque relationship from hell. Lowe is a weak bumbling fool, but achieves sympathy for his actions when faced with Hawk’s horror.
Final cast member Carly Davies, provides plenty of laughs, with her deadpan humour and is she isn’t she the witch moment.
The direction embraces the opportunities that theatre in the round creates, and the snowy auditorium with lighted trees creates a beautiful atmosphere. Innovative use of puppetry transports us into the witch’s house and in turn, the witch into the stove.
When the show finally finishes, is it witty? Is it clever? No it’s absolutely beautiful as the two children and father embrace each other in the gently falling snow. Merry Christmas indeed.
Running time 2 hours including interval
Recommend for children aged six years upwards
The show is running from 05 December 2012 – 13 January 2013
Box Office: 0117 9020344
Book Online: www.tobaccofactorytheatre.com
Not only is the show brilliant, but the relaxed atmosphere at this theatre makes it a wonderful night out.