King's Ely Junior's production of fairy tale classics is far from Grimm!

PUBLISHED: 09:27 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:27 01 December 2017

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

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Young actors and actresses at King's Ely Junior wowed audiences with their sell-out production of Grimm Tales.

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

Hundreds of people flocked to the highly physical and imaginative production at King’s Ely’s Hayward Theatre, which starred students in Years 7 and 8.

The show, based on the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, was directed by Laura Dixon with movement by Natasha Hobbs.

This stage version by Philip Wilson boasted the familiar characters Hansel and Gretel and some unexpected tales too, such as The Donkey Cabbage, The Frog King and the remarkable Thousandfurs.

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

Director of drama and theatre at King’s Ely, Nick Huntington, said: “I was immensely proud of the cast who rose to the challenge of this fast-paced production by achieving consistently slick transitions and taking responsibility for challenging ensemble moments throughout the piece.

“The cast showed excellent characterisation throughout and made the audience laugh out loud with their comic timing and delivery.”

Review by David Learner

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

The Brothers Grimm got there first, delving into our hearts and minds more than three centuries ago, to leave tales that shock and sever, sieve and slice, and produce more than just a little death and blood along the path through the trees to the witch’s house.

So in the hands of a group of young storytellers without a care in the world we know that we’re going to make it to the end of the evening safely and live happily ever after. But now let’s add to the blend that master storyteller Phillip Pullman, he of the Dark Materials, whose own inky blackness combines with a mystical sense of wonder, to adapt the Grimms’ stories into pint-sized vignettes, performed by pint-sized children, so that the fog seems just a little gloomier and the forest just a spot more murky.

Open bookshelves to the rear of the stage stand dominant over the evening like the commandments themselves, lit low and enticing like a library.

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

Tiered below are floors decked with pages that spill out into the audience, and our first view is of the performers pouring out books like birds, covering the stage with words. We’re in for an evening of magic.

Four tales, unforgettably told, first of the Frog King who demands to be treated as a human. Benjamin Collier is the puppeteer and performer, a demanding task for even the most polished of technicians, and he does it with skill and confidence.

His fibbing Princess is Lauren Booth, just the right side of haughty to deserve her comeuppance, and Robin de Haan and Barnaby Whittome complete the company to create a rounded tale, simply and perfectly laid out like gold.

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

Words create memories, memories create legends, and legends build worlds. This evening is testament not only to the creativity of the Grimms and Pullman but to the soul of the solid King’s team that tell a tale with honesty, to amuse us all for an hour, with stories that will live for an age.

In three more tales – Thousandfurs, Hansel and Gretel and The Donkey Cabbage – this splendid group created of children make clouds out of pillows, giants out of masks, and coaches out of rumbles.

Aided by some scary smoke, some deft choreography and Laura Dixon’s mathematically perfect stage direction which meant that everyone knew exactly what they were doing, when they were doing it and most importantly why they were doing it, we audience were transported into new worlds and magical places.

King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney King's Ely Junior's production of Grimm Tales. Photo: Toby Roney

And if they exist only in our minds then so be it.

Often the best stories ever are the ones we create for ourselves because they are the ones that will live the longest. A resoundingly successful evening.

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