Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel are the children of a poor wood cutter and his wife, and times are so hard that mother decides it's time to significantly reduce the number of mouths to feed in the family. Everyone is always hungry, and the children constantly dream of their favourite foods, so bumping off the ravenous kids looks like the only solution, even if it's not good parenting.

Meanwhile, in a twist to the original Grimm classic, the witch in the wood has been harvesting the children's dreams of delicious tucker in order to concoct her own culinary masterpieces. Apparently the foody-dreams of a child makes an excellent sauce. Who knew?

Skip forward to the part where Hansel and Gretel have been abandoned in the woods, and Hansel's breadcrumb trail home has been eaten. When they stumble upon the gingerbread house, the witch is clearly delighted to have the source of her sauce right on tap. Inviting the children in and locking them up in a cage, what the witch doesn't twig onto is that by feeding them, they no longer have their hungry dreams. No dreams equals no yummy sauce to serve to her crony friends.

On to Plan B (or Plan A in the original tale) - fatten up Hansel and make the sauce out of him instead.

It's a well-executed play, but remember that it'll be scary for small children. From the mother who keenly commits infanticide to fattening up kids for the cooking pot, this isn't a show full of gags. That said, these are solid performances from a clearly professional cast. The new material added to the original is imaginative, if not an odd fork in the road which comes back to the Grimm storyline in the end anyway.

Unlike the other Hansel & Gretel over at Rocket Venues, this show is suitable for children - just remember to convince your little 'uns that they won't be going in the oven when they get home.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

The Blurb

A magical blend of movement, songs and storytelling for all the family. Be led deep into a bamboo forest to the gingerbread house and follow trails of breadcrumbs to see the wicked witch's oven. www.swishtheatre.com