Big Mix Theatre combines clever animation with live action to bring to life a charming alternative take on the traditional children's story of Little Red Riding Hood. With witty writing, this show, put on as part of the Free Fringe, promises a vivid and exciting journey through the forest that forms the backdrop to a lesson about friendship, the breaking down stereotypes and the power of the imagination.
The Narrator, who looked more like a Tim Burton-inspired ringmaster than anything else, introduced us to Rufus, a wolf who has been taught all his life to fear humans after his great-grandfather (The Big Bad Wolf) was killed by Little Red Riding Hood. In a bid to overcome his fear, Rufus ventures into the forest, where he encounters Robin, a girl descended from Little Red Riding Hood, known in wolf folklore as 'Little Red'. With the help of a frightened rabbit, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit, the pair, who have been brought up as enemies through their own respective versions of the famous fairytale, form a friendship in order to defeat the Fear and Hate which fills the forest.
The stylised animation of the forest, which was projected onto a screen before which the entirety of the play was performed, would not look out of place in The Nightmare Before Christmas. It set the scene beautifully. However, by contrast, the majority of the costumes looked thrown-together and stood out starkly against the very professional background.
The script, which makes clever and funny references to the fairytales we have all grown up with, was marred a little by the fact that none of the actors project their voices quite enough. As this is a children's show, the clever asides of The Narrator in particular must be much more obvious if they are going to be enjoyed by children as young as seven, who are BigMix's target audience. But the charm of Rufus, the jumpy vegetarian wolf, was such that it eclipses these minor flaws. The physical comedy, when Rufus falls down or is dragged along by Robin and by his own umbrella in a storm, got the biggest laughs from the children.
BigMix's production is clever, heart-warming and definitely worth a go.