Review: Lost in the Woods, Hawk and Hill Theatre, Ed Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Fairy tales are told in every country and culture in the World. Often, they transcend boundaries and similar stories have their own cultural take on them, fitting that part of the World. They translate and therefore, combining them in one production is a very interesting and smart move.

We know the story of Hansel & Gretel. But what happens when their story is mixed up with Sleeping Beauty’s or Cinderella’s? Lost in the Woods is a fourth wall breaking show where our two well known characters of Hansel and Gretel are mixed up in other stories and need to find a way to finish their own.

Picture mad-capped comedy, bizarre impromptu characters and scenes, when both characters try to re-enact the story the narrator is telling with whatever they have in their suitcase, including fake glasses with nose attachment and a banana. The clowning and chaos ensues, with fantastic banter between our two performers.

The snippets of other stories are hardly named, but you audibly hear children in the audience say they know that story or call the title. They are engaged and the joyous laughter that comes from them at the slapstick on stage is infectious.

The set is minimal, but to create other scenes and characters, such as the witch in the gingerbread house, some shadow play is used and this is effective, bringing away the chaotic notion of other stories and bringing it back to Hansel and Gretel’s story. It adds a theatrical element, as if it were the main stage and what we see when it goes awry is the “back stage”.

Both performers interact well with the audience, inviting them in and reacting to the children’s unplanned interventions. There are even little nods to the adults, noting quietness at one point for a gentleman who admitted a hangover. This brings a little something for the adults to enjoy with it going over the heads of the children.

Lost in the Woods is a unique story, combining the old favourites. It is fun, mad and comedic, drawing on clowning and special techniques to make this something different to other re-tellings of children’s fairy tales.

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