Review Elen Benfelen / Goldilocks at Sherman Theatre by Bethan Lewis

Elen Benfelen / Goldilocks production images, Carri Munn (Nain / Papi Bear), Elin Gruffydd (Elen) Photo by Mark Duoet

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A Perfect Introduction to Theatre

Elgan Rhys’ adaptation of Goldilocks at the Sherman Theatre is a magical production that offers a wonderful introduction to theatre for young children. The piece, directed by Nia Morris, is a modern re-telling of the classic fairy tale. Although audiences will recognise the names of the characters and references to porridge, chairs and beds – the story moves in a different direction.

Goldilocks, played by Elin Gruffydd, is a friendlier and more endearing version of the character that we are used to. She is an upstanding citizen of ‘Golden Town’ where her grandmother is the mayor. Goldilocks abides by the town’s endless list of rules, many of which are centred around an obsession with all things yellow, and she has achieved one of the highest accolades by growing the finest golden locks in town.

Things take a turn for the worst when Goldilocks discovers blue locks amongst her golden mane. Embarrassed and ashamed, she flees to the “periphery”, the outskirts of town where those that are different are banished and, according to legend, eaten by gruesome bears.

The fun, colourful bears that Goldilocks meets could not be different from what she was expecting – they even eat porridge with oat milk and sit on rainbow-coloured chairs! The bears challenge Goldilocks’ perceptions, helping her to embrace her new hair and teaching her to understand the importance of being herself. Inspired by this experience, she returns to Golden Town to champion the joy of being different.

Elen Benfelen / Goldilocks production images, Carri Munn (Nain / Papi Bear), Rhys ap Trefor (Dadi Bear / Villager), Elin Gruffydd (Elen)
Photo by Mark Duoet

The story has a strong, positive message that is told in a fun and engaging way, using catchy songs and puppetry to keep young audiences enthralled throughout. Actors Carrie Munn and Rhys Ap Trefor who each played multiple roles interacted beautifully with the audience; at one point some children edged so far forward into the performance space they were practically sat on their laps but they incorporated this into the action and were able to expertly coax them back into the seating area.

The show is performed in the Sherman’s Studio Theatre where audiences have the option of sitting on benches or on the floor on large pink mats. The space is very friendly and welcoming which helps to relieve any fears that parents might have about keeping children quiet and sitting still for a long stretch. There seems to be a general acceptance that the audience probably will make some noise, eat sweets and wriggle about a bit. That being said, the level of concentration and excellent behaviour in the room is a testament to the quality of the performance – the audience were totally enraptured.

With a 50-minute running time and no interval, this delightful reimagination of a well-known tale is the perfect festive treat for a young family. We had a really enjoyable afternoon and would certainly recommend this performance as a lovely outing for families with young children.

Elen Benfelen / Goldilocks is at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff until 31st December 2022.You can find out more and book tickets here

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