Ginger Hibiscus | Review by Ginger Hibiscus - Into the Woods at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre
Review by Ginger Hibiscus - Into the Woods at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre
Review by Ginger Hibiscus - Into the Woods at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-18401,single-format-standard,tribe-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.2.1,vc_responsive

12 Oct REVIEW: Into the Woods at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre

Into the Woods at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre is the most wonderful demonstration that a show doesn’t have to have a big budget to have a big impact. Hidden away above a pub in north east London, is a production that’s as funny as it is charming. A production that’s quick and clever and nuanced and just bursting with terrifyingly talented individuals.

ITW-16There’s a temptation to say that Tim McArthur and Aaron Clingham have done a great job of dusting off Sondheim‘s classic musical fairytale, but they haven’t so much “dusted it off” as given it a marvellously magical reimagining. They’ve given Cinderella’s ugly sisters a TOWIE makeover, complete with ridiculous stilettos to stagger around the woods in; they’ve dragged Jack and his mother, along with their beanstalk, straight from the set of Jeremy Kyle still in their velour tracksuits; but most impressively they’ve convinced a pair of princes to return early from their Gap Yah, where we can only assume they’ve been busy chundering everywhere.

That’s just a fraction of the immense imagination that’s gone into the production, that has turned some crates, logs and woodchippings into a forest, and made a musical more than 25 years old feel fresh, vibrant and engaging. But with all this talk about “reimagining” and “updating,” it’s only possible – only desirable – because of the timelessness of the story, the score, and the characters.

We open with a baker (Paul Hutton) and his wife (Jo Wickham), unable to conceive because of a spell cast by a witch (Helena Raeburn) living next door. To lift the spell, she sends them “Into the Woods,” to source a collection of apparently mundane items, that just happen to be rooted in a series of fairytales. Despite the ridiculousness of the concept, Wickham’s wife reigns in the flight of fancy just a touch; she’s hilarious, withering, sarcastic and crucially incredibly relatable, lighting up the stage with a fabulous on-stage chemistry with Hutton.

ITW-24As they journey through the woods, they come across Little Red Ridinghood – far sassier than I remember from my childhood – played by an incredibly strong Emma Ralston with a bread basket that looks suspiciously like it came from Tesco, and being pursued by an altogether different kind of predator. Without just regurgitating the cast list, it’s impossible to mention everyone who gives an outstanding performance, but particular mention has to go to Hugh O’Donnell for his anxiety-prone Jack; and to Emma Devlin as Rapunzel and Tim Phelps as her prince for their astonishing vocal performances. Meanwhile, perpetually observing is the wonderful Narrator (Robert Oliver), a woodcutter who doubles as chief selfie-taker and the voice of Milkywhite. Obviously.

There is no other way of describing this production than, “captivating.” We’re spoilt rotten with the combination of Sondheim’s enchanting score, James Lapine’s writing, the imaginations of Tim McArthur, Aaron Clingham and Gregor Donnelly, and outstanding judgement from casting director Benjamin Newsome. It’s a magical production in every way, and I’m head over heels in love with it.

For tickets and information:
Dates: 7th – 31st October 2014
Image credit: David Ovenden

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here