Red and The Wolf

Prospero Theatre have decided it’s their turn to roll out a dark retelling of a well-known fairy tale, showcasing a unique-ish take on Little Red Riding Hood, with their production Red and the Wolf. Though this is a rather worn genre, while I don’t feel they managed to hit the mark on every level, there is much to be praised in this show, and it really was interesting to watch.

A performance that with a few tweaks could be something really special.

Set against the backdrop of civil war, during an unmarked time, gangs of soldiers pit themselves against local people and rebels who are battling to regain control. As Red’s step-father leaves to fight as a soldier, Red too becomes embroiled in a plot to transfer weaponry from one side of the forest to another. Her grandmother uses Red as bait, hoping that by donning her red cloak this will distract the hunters from catching her and gain her free passage home. However, as we know from the fairytale, Red, plagued by her natural curiosity, ventures off path. In Prospero Theatre’s interpretation this act becomes a metaphor for her burgening sexulaity as a young woman. She find the wolf alluring and sensual and it seems inevitable that her appetite for him will lead her astray.

The central concept for the setting of this story in a war-torn woods is a really interesting one. Indeed all the scenes that included this part of the story I really enjoyed. It did become an excellent metaphor for this young girl's journey into adulthood and as well cast, as Rebecca Riley played the part really effectively and became a real highlight. Other decisions for me were a little disjointed and forced - the acting of the un-dead children in the woods was a little over-egged and obvious, and the animalistic quality of the wolf character as pretty over the top, verging on annoying at times. However, there were some shining moments, for example Roisin Potter as Red's grandmother did well, despite a few fumbles with remembering lines.

I mention as a side note - and that's what it should be - that Prospero Theatre is an inclusive company with over half their cast having a disability. As they say themselves “this does not diminish our creative and artistic ambition” and neither it should. It’s merely an interesting side-note for a performance that with a few tweaks could be something really special. 

Reviews by Hannah Lucy Baker

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The Blurb

The forest breathes and it waits. A dark retelling of the Red story set against the backdrop of war. In this forest the inhabitants are children killed in the conflict, and the predators are both soldiers and wolves. We are in a wasteland, a no man's land between realities. Grandma, a formidable rebel with echoes of Mother Courage, packs a basket for Red. A trademark Prospero ensemble; physical, poetic, layered. Directed by Beth Wood. Designed by Jill Wilson. Original music by David Rowan.

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