Damsels in Success: Fairytales Retold

Mum and Dad are out and it is time for a bedtime story with a twist. We are invited into a gorgeously decorated storytelling cove and, when we are all sitting comfortably on the scattered cushions, the stories begin.

'Hansel and Gretel and the Dinosaur' and 'Sleeping Beauty the Lion Taming Princess' are just as endearing and engaging as the original tales we know and love, and have a better message as well.

The babysitter decides to read the children a story to get them playing nicely together. The story charms all of the children – even those who think stories are stupid. However, the tale of the Princess and the Pea leaves the children more confused than entertained. Rosie, the middle child, decides to retell the stories in a new way, so that they make more sense. With the help of her brothers, the babysitter and the audience, the stories of Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty are energetically played out in front of us. This time however, the children each have their own take on the characters and stories we know so well.

The charm of the show dwells in the lovable characters of the children, and the cast pull them off seamlessly. Jeremy, Rose and Alex are instantly recognisable, from the dinosaur fact-loving youngest son to the bookish but confident daughter, as well as the Lego-loving elder brother who is too old for stories. They are utterly believable while retaining enough stock character that the audience can instantly root for them. The cast clearly enjoyed their performances. The gothic babysitter relishes her performance as an evil stepmother and is fantastically sinister as a result. Prince Charming – dashing, dangerous and armed with an umbrella – is hilarious to watch. This audience was sitting enthralled from the start in this performance, and the show is carefully balanced to be funny for both children and adults alike.

It is a shame that there is very little actual change to the original stories. Rather, the children get stuck on one detail and then change it – and not the most objectionable detail of the tales either. Today, they were absolutely fine with the fact that every cannibalistic witch has treasure, but were unable to accept a duck carrying two people. This did improve as the show progressed, with some more significant plot points being altered, leading to a much more interesting shakeup of the fairy tales.

There is a collection of plot holes. The children start the show claiming to not know any of Grimm’s tales, while later they do know that they are split up into stories and later on again say they have favourite tales. But these moments, while confusing, do not radically disrupt the overall enjoyment of the piece.

Not Cricket Productions have put together a lively and entertaining show guaranteed to charm audiences. There is a real joy in watching the characters discover the stories for the first time. The tales of 'Hansel and Gretel and the Dinosaur' and 'Sleeping Beauty the Lion Taming Princess' are just as endearing and engaging as the original tales we know and love, and have a better message as well.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

Jeremy, Rose and Alex's parents are going to a ball and they leave the children in the charge of a babysitter. When she reads them The Princess and the Pea before bedtime, Rose takes objection to the story and its inconsistencies. They consequently set out to retell famous fairytales including Hansel and Gretel and Sleeping Beauty in their own way, with help from the audience and whatever items are to hand. Fun, funny and just a little bit silly. 'Not Cricket Productions have created a family treat’ (TheEdinburghReporter.co.uk).

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