Part of the American High School Theatre Festival, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon is a high speed attempt to combine all 209 fairy tales compiled by the Grimms or at least, it wants to be. In reality they do not even make double figures. If this is the joke then it is not clear: they do not even seem to be in any particular hurry to move onto the next story. Accordingly what is billed as fast paced trudges along languidly. Covering predominantly the most famous tales in the compendium, the company takes liberties with the storytelling for comic effect – a particular highlight shows one exhausted actor attempting to portray every character in Cinderella.
Overall the performance is unprofessional and often sloppy. Though high energy to the point of mania, there was little to ground the show or to reign in the individual performances. All too often the stage felt dominated by a group of actors all fighting for attention, making the show chaotic and unfocused. Everyone is out for as many laughs as they can wrangle - due to the sheer amount of jokes crammed in, a fair few do hit the mark and there are some genuinely hilarious moments. Too many fall flat to be excused, however, which could be solved with some revision and greater commitment to the characters. For example, one character cracks wise about the price of health insurance in pound sterling but fails to recall the existence of the NHS – there is much that needs to be revised for a predominantly British audience.
Another thing that must be mentioned is the uncomfortable amount of dead air that permeates the production. For a show that requires a great deal of swift set and costume changes, there has not been enough time spent streamlining these logistics. Sometimes in the middle of a scene, too, the pace was jarred and did not flow as well as it should have done. The brief moments when performers enter the auditorium, however, are generally very strong and elicited the largest laughs. It was here that the cast’s energy really shone and became engaging rather than grating, as it sometimes was on stage.
About fifteen minutes could easily have been shaved off this show, which could exclude the weaker material and give the ensemble more time to strengthen the better sections. The final five minutes, especially, were totally unnecessary and did nothing for the production other than to make it overrun. As a final point: the actors had a habit of mild swearing which, for a family show with no minimum age, is not really acceptable and should be checked.