NIALL ADAMS reviews Teatro Vivo’s The Hunters Grimm, a journey that starts at Deptford Lounge.
Deptford High Street is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about fairy tales. Yet, this is the location for Teatro Vivo’s enchanting new production of the Brothers Grimm’s tales.
The Hunters Grimm tells the story of the eponymous brothers (Joel Mellinger as Wilhelm and Mark Stevenson as Jacob) and their search for folklore and fairy tales with an intriguing twist: with stories becoming ever more elusive, they have recruited a team of “hunters” (the audience) to help find new tales with happy endings. The journey begins with the audience being ushered into the Grimm’s work room; an incredible set which is gorgeously designed with little intricate details relating to the Brothers and their work.
After meeting the Grimms and their neighbour Dot (Kas Darley), instructions are given for the rest of the night, and the audience are split in two before heading out to the streets. To really gain the full effect of the show, two trips are needed with both teams encountering different characters and quests. Whilst our group, for example, helped a Prince hunt for his princess, the rest of the audience aided an evil stepsister in deceiving him. Throughout the night the two groups intersect, particularly for scenes involving the Grimms, with each having a different experience to share.
All of the stories are wonderfully bought to life and transferred into the play’s East London setting. The company draws from a vast range of fairy tales, including the childhood classics Snow White and Aschenputtel (Cinderella), as well as more obscure tales like The Musicians of Bremen and The Twelve Dancing Princesses, all with a contemporary twist. The cast give strong performances, exuding infectious enthusiasm as they embody multiple characters throughout the show. Darley, as Dot and the Wicked Stepmother, and Stevenson, as Jacob and The Prince, were particularly outstanding. Every character is vividly imagined and feels distinct.
Sophie Austin’s direction creates a fully immersive performance. Throughout the production, the audience are constantly involved in the acting, with characters seeking their help or opinions on events, transporting you into the world of these fairy tales. Again, the decision to involve the local community and businesses creates an interesting experience, which is completely unique from the usual theatre trip. At no point is this illusion shattered. Even during a very brief intermission, allowing the audience a break, the cast continue to perform music and dance, never allowing the performance to be broken.
Rachel Good’s design work also deserves a special mention. Although theatrical sets are largely confined to only the opening and close of the performance, both are beautifully realised, including the aforementioned study of the Grimm’s. The costumes throughout are also cleverly designed, especially those of the Musicians of Bremen, bridging the magical elements of fairy tales with the modern.
In a world where fairy tales once again dominate theatre and screen, The Hunters Grimm is a delightfully unique piece of theatre. Managing to both remain faithful to the classical tales whilst updating them for the modern setting, Teatro Vivo create a magical evening which is not to be missed.
The Hunter’s Grimm run from 22nd October – 8th November with performances beginning at the Deptford Lounge. Click HERE for tickets and information.