Pros: A novel idea to take classic fairy tales and re-tell them to incorporate contemporary issues.
Cons: Occasionally the references to sensitive subjects felt slapdash and inappropriate.
The Space is a converted church based on the Isle of Dogs, just a short bus ride from Canary Wharf station. It is an intriguing venue, the main performance space in the church works well. However it could have been warmer – I kept my coat on for the duration of the performance! There is a bar located at the rear of the building, a welcoming and friendly place, although it is only accessible by walking outside – not ideal in winter.
RETOLD is a Fairytale Festival, however we are told immediately that there will be no typical ‘happily ever after’s’. The show is made up of three separate fairy tales, with different casts, writers and directors for each. All three performances re-tell well known fairytales but with a contemporary angle. Each performance also addressed issues including eating disorders, treatment of Muslim women and graduate unemployment with varying levels of success.
The first show was As if by a Stair, RETOLD’s version of Rapunzel. Rapunzel is trapped in the tower, as expected. However in this case the many Princes who pass her by represent her chances of employment and leaving home – a situation many graduates can relate to. While this was a good idea it did not quite manifest itself as an engaging performance and I found my mind wandering. There were also some moments where I felt the cast were waiting for laughter from the audience, which did not materialise.
Next up was The Snow White Complex. Out of all three shows this was the one that I most engaged with. It tells the story of three old friends – who have grown apart – meeting again to watch a screening of Disney’s Snow White. What I found interesting in this tale was how issues with appearance, perceptions of beauty and eating disorders were portrayed. Although I did feel the representation of an eating disorder was slightly slapdash and stereotypical, the overall message about society’s ideals of beauty and the pressure to conform was interesting.
The final fairytale was Little Red Hoodie, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (obviously!) and perhaps the hardest for me to enjoy. We find Aisha, a Muslim woman who has been murdered, inside the wolf with Gran and Little Red Riding Hood or Hoodie. A comedic and pantomime style Gran alongside references to the horrific treatment of many Muslim women felt, at times, inappropriate.
There was very little set used in the performances, however the use of lighting was very effective, particularly in the final two performances. I felt that the use of Disney music slightly took away from the messages the performances were trying to portray.
Overall I like the idea of this production, bringing traditional fairy tales into a modern setting and approaching taboo subjects. However in reality the performances failed to engage me despite the issues raised.
Authors: Amy Bethan Evans, Tilly Lunken & Claire Booker
Directors: Tessa Hart, Kuba Drewa, Bradley Leech & Rebecca Hill
Producer: Goblin Baby Theatre Company
Box Office: 020 7515 7799
Booking Link: https://space.org.uk/event-booking/?event=retold
Booking Until: 18th January 2014