Bluebeard: A Fairy Tale for Adults

Bluebeard sets out to challenge the conventions of the standard fairly tale, and the values and desires it represents that have become our cultural norm. The initial voice-over, involving graphic sexual descriptions, sets the tone for the piece: a slightly mad tale with dark underlying tones. The nefarious Bluebeard is introduced, as are his three wives, two of whom have already been killed.Both its subject matter and method convey a decidedly more adult tale. Told primarily through narration, recordings and musical numbers, the play combines different media to create a complex image. However, the overall effect doesn’t so much challenge the Disneyfied fairy tale, as the notion that marriage equals happily ever after.The set is ambitious; strewn with everything imaginable and unimaginable to create a festival-like atmosphere. A gold two-seater bicycle at the side powers a lighting system. Energized by the cast’s frequent, frantic pedalling, the tires occasionally allow the smell of burning rubber to permeate the room. Original handmade projections frequently adorn the screen behind the actors, adding ambiance as teapots and spoons roll across the set.The physicality and stamina of the actors is worthy of praise. They are able to bring a constant stream of energy to the performance, clambering all over the set and interacting with each other. Not to mention taking it in turns to power half the set. More importantly, they are able to convey this energy to the audience, occasionally pausing the drama to check the audience is still following.However, despite this commendable energy in some scenes, in others it is decidedly misplaced. A substance resembling mashed potato is smeared across the actors and unprompted masturbation takes place on stage. This may be trying to bring the everyday grotesque into idealized fairy tales, but it seems gratuitous. Though certainly an interesting piece of theatre, I fail to see how it connects with the original fairy tale essence. By failing to do this, it is unable to bring to life the irony it tries to convey. It seems more an attack on society than on Cinderella.

Reviews by Nicole Adam

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The Blurb

Pedal-powered anarchic theatre. Journey through a world of homespun contraptions and cabaret song. An unsavoury tale, of a fairy-tale womaniser and his new prey, brimming with lust, temptation and punishment. ‘Quirky and witty’ (FringeReview.co.uk).

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