Why are we so drawn towards the darkest corners of humanity? Red Riding Hood takes the familiar childhood story down a dark and sordid path. In this adaption Red, who is played by director Lydia Georgiou, is the abandoned child of Wolf. We watch as a cast of wound-up toys jitter into life, seeming to represent the fragility of this fairytale happiness that comes crashing down with the horrifying death of Red's mother only minutes in.
It is an intense hour. Few words pass on stage, instead a haunting and ominous soundtrack guides the narrative. Your uneasiness is given no opportunity to abate as we watch Wolf quickly turn into a wretched demented beast and lure No.2, the nameless mistress, into his clutches. Wolf's contorted and animalistic demeanor is repulsively sinister yet undeniably enticing, as he is both predator and first victim of this tale. Both No.2 and young Red demonstrate this strange draw beautifully.
Red and Wolf examine one another through dance and movement, 14-year-old Red the picture of youthful curiosity and playfulness. The incestuous implications hang over the performance, adding enormous tension to the seductive play between Wolf and Red. Suggestive of their sensuality, the two women of the play are constantly and ravenously eating, be it apples two at a time or an entire basket of cookies, the crumbs falling unnoticed over No.2's dress. I am loathe to call it an undercurrent, as sexuality is never tiptoed around, but desire builds to breaking point in this dance of play and seduction and with uncontrolled emotions and suppressed anger comes violence, the horror of which the audience has been lying in wait for. Knowing what is coming builds fabulous suspense.
One thing that feels a little too bizarre is No.2's descent into madness. Though at times affecting, it is hard not to think of Andy Serkis' Gollum as she battles with herself on stage. It is at times highly effective to evoke nervous laughter in order to paint fractured characters, but the laughs were a little too forthcoming, making her a less tragic and more a figure of fun. Nonetheless, this is brave and disturbing theatre, as beautiful as it is bold.