Red Riding Hood and the Wolves
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 15th Aug 2011
  • |
  • ★★★

There’s been a bit of a pattern to Fringe children’s theatre over the past few years. Step one: take a well known story, preferably a Grimm fairytale. Step two: re-examine the story and add a dark twist. Step three: Bring in the audience and switch off the lights. This is pretty much the approach that Red Riding Hood and the Wolves takes and, in fairness to the company, it works well enough. Here the Big Bad Wolf is several big bad wolves and the reason people don’t come back from the deep dark forest is not that they’ve been eaten but that they have become wolves instead.Red Riding Hood, or Pashnick as she is named, lives in a small village overshadowed by the woods. Nothing comes out of there but no-one goes in either, frightened away by tales of ‘wolves or worse’. Or at least they don’t until Pashnick’s best friend Baryluk is goaded into heading off on an adventure. When he doesn’t return, Paschnick heads off to seek advice from the one person she thinks can help, her mysterious grandmother. Problem is, Granny lives in the middle of the same woods that just claimed Paschnick’s friend.The twist of wolf-as-werewolf is interesting enough,as is the suggestion that Granny herself may have what-big-teeth and what-big-ears. It feels, though, as if this attempt to link the Grimm tale to its gothic origins goes a little over the audience’s heads. None of the children were bored but none were excited enough to shout out either. The cast make the most of the material, quick changing and switching between characters. Some, like the impish Yaroslav or the wild and feral Skorepa, are interesting and engaging; others, such as the owls, are just a little irritating. There are also moments where the transition of the werewolves from slavering beasts to friendly people seem unbelievably swift - and theyare never really explained.A few very nice touches in staging add distinctive notes to the show, a segment where a wildly swinging torch in the darkness picks out the predators sneaking up on Paschnick being notably effective, but overall there’s little special or exciting in this production.Red Riding Hood and the Wolves is perfectly competent and enjoyable children’s theatre and puts a new spin on a classic tale. While it doesn’t do anything revolutionary, what it does, it does well. Solid cast, solid staging, a solid bet.

Reviews by Tom King

Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

★★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter

★★★★

The Blurb

Magical and action-packed physical re-telling of Perrault's classic folktale, with a dash of Brothers Grimm. Loyalty, friendships and werewolves. Enchanting storytelling theatre. 'The best children's show I've seen in ages' (EdinburghGuide.com). www.ctheatre.com