Little Red strayed the path of the forest and found herself in the dangerous company of the Big Bad Wolf today at Liverpool's Unity Theatre. Breaking the rules so clearly set by her Mum and Grandma, eagerly trying to prove she is not a little girl.
Beautifully set, the imaginative staging of the forest saw trees and backdrops to create the illusion of the story, with commendation to LIPA's Theatre & Performance Design students, a split staging to introduce the three characters, Little Red, her Mum and Grandma. Although a small plot hole, I felt it slightly didn't make sense for Little Red to be between communications of her Mother and Grandmother at an obvious split scene but no definite confirmation of which scene Little Red was part of at that time, as it was slightly confusing as a viewer as we knew she hadn't arrived at her Grandma's house and hadn't left with her Mum's permission, yet her Grandma handed over the bowl and ingredients to make the pie which she would shortly take to her.
As frightened Little Red, convincingly played by Luca Rutherford set off on her journey, the 3 remaining characters (Natalia Campbell, Simone Lewis & Harvey Robinson) became the narrators of the journey whilst remaining part of the scene, becoming animals of the forest in which she passed such as sheep and cows. Filled with jokes along the way, the script made for an entertaining performance, credits to the writer Kevin Dyer.
What was particularly stand out for me was how the trees became interchangeable props which then became the fence she would climb into the forest and later the door to the grandma's house, and what you imagined was some sort of grass flooring from the get go, quickly got shovelled like gravel to then lead the pathway for Little Red. This clever and original detail is something I'll remember most about the performance.
Although not strictly a pantomime, the Wolf played by Harvey Robinson and friends (Campbell and Lewis) who had tricked little red into joining them, had an interactive part to the show in which they got the children of the audience up and involved in a howling competition after playing other games together such as charades and musical statues. This gave a further intimate sense to the performance, as did the way the audience were set out to surround the staging of the forest. Also handing out biscuits at the end which the Grandma had made gave it a real festive vibe for us as an audience.
The second half of the production saw the setting of the Grandma's house, and how the characters built it up bit by bit, taking us from forest to the home. Again, one slight note would be on Little Red's participation when creating the house she would soon be arriving at, as she was still in character unlike her fellow 3 cast members who where their respective multi role characters during this scene. Having said this, the building of the new setting in front of the audience and not during the interval really helped to foreshadow and make oncoming jokes with the wolf more comedic, so Little Red's participation became a minor problem to deal with in the end.
Action Transport Theatre's retake on this well known Fairy tale demonstrated the perfect way to see in the beginning of the festive season, portraying forgiveness and the coming together of family. A great family outing for all ages to enjoy, showing until January 7th 2017.
Reviewer: Amanda Woods
Reviewed: 3rd December 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★★