Grimm's Fairytale Gets A Sassy Seasonal Makeover

Snow White & Rose Red, Battersea Arts Centre ★★★★☆

Phillipa Ellis
By Phillipa Ellis Last edited 62 months ago

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Grimm's Fairytale Gets A Sassy Seasonal Makeover Snow White & Rose Red, Battersea Arts Centre 4

Although initially you could be forgiven for thinking that this ultra modern rework is being told by stroppy teenagers, all cynical and lacking in any Christmas magic, then stick with it. This brilliantly brave, family friendly production is probably closer to the story intended by the Brothers Grimm, before it was sweetened up for Ladybird Books.

It might be set in Bluebell Cottage and among the Bushy Trees of Black Wood, but acclaimed theatre company RashDash have brought the story bang up to date. You’ll recognise the same two sisters, one light and fluffy as a cloud, the other more sassy and (actually) gay, but this adventure sees them more ballsy than ever, and having far more fun in the forest than our original heroines ever did.

When their cosy fireside story is interrupted by an Earl Grey-seeking bear, the long winter nights begin to fly. But before long, their furry friend has to leave, accepting the only way to win Snow White’s heart is to return to being a human. As he heads off on a quest to find Graham, The Very Small Man With A Very Long Beard responsible for casting him under a spell (played hilariously by Edward Wren), the girls aren’t far behind. Braving the Hunger Cave and the Stormy Peaks Of Doom Town, they’re off to find him, save him and bring him back home for Christmas.

Despite a slightly misjudged call for audience participation so early in the production, the shadow puppetry scene documenting the days before the dwarf proves a masterstroke at engaging even the most confused of younger viewers. The music is spectacular throughout. Completely original and totally eclectic, yet with cues borrowed from so many familiar places, it feels like we all should be singing along. Haunting celtic ballads, 50s doo wop, a sprinkle of Frozen and a few West End musicals. And if sisterhood’s the name of this game, then the tune Life Is A Fairytale carries striking similarity to all-girl group ‪Haim‬.

The unanticipated arrival of the creeperlicious creature (imagine a gothic version of Big Bird) might spook some of the little ones, but this is speedily replaced by belly laughs as an entertaining fight scene ensues between the bear and the dwarf.

If you’re looking for a radical departure from even the most alternative of festive productions, with more imaginative staging and all the components of joy, then add this cracker to your wishlist. It’s worth it if just to see a grown man in a bear suit, playing the drums.

Snow White & Rose Red, Battersea Arts Centre, Tickets £12.50-22. Age Guidance: 5+. 29 November - 30 December 2017.

Last Updated 01 December 2017