BWW Review: HANSEL AND GRETEL, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
We're all familiar with at least one fairy tale. We've been told them since we were young. Sure, it may not be the original version of the story, but it'll be one that intrigued, excited and amazed. Fairy tales are a product of society's current tastes, and are adapted to suit each audience member. But what is it that makes them stand out so much.
It's their sense of escapism; we love retreating to a magical world full of adventure and danger. Going along for a wild ride can help us forget the troubles of our time. It's no wonder that Regent's Park Open Air Theatre has collaborated with the English National Opera to stage Engelbert Humperdinck's famous story, Hansel and Gretel.
Directed by the theatre's Artistic Director Timothy Sheader, the staging is a colourful and cute interpretation of the children's journey into the forest. Despite some initial technical difficulties and a few slips, the drama moves along steadily. We enjoy the sweetness that Heather Lowe and Elizabeth Karani share as the siblings.
Lowe is incredibly playful as Hansel, and has the childlike physicality down to a tee. Karani is the perfect contrast as Gretel; disciplining her brother, being the firmer of the two. Both are strong storytellers and their performances are charming.
Everything about the production is sweet and dangerous at the same time. The pair's Mother, played by Gweneth Ann Rand, is another treat. Over the top in her delivery, she works hard to provide a lot of physical comedy. Alongside her, Ben McAteer is the bumbling Father. The two share delicious chemistry.
The ensemble features students from Bird College and Arts Educational. Being used primarily to move around set pieces, they seem more like an afterthought to the overall artistic vision. Instead of contributing to the action, their onstage moments are clunky and a complete contrast in tone to what else is happening.
However, all in all, this is a production that will entertain the entire family, and is definitely worth taking a trip down to the woods for.
Hansel and Gretel at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre until 22 June