Nestled in a dim-lit basement within a stone archway, Paradise in The Vault feels like the perfect venue to indulge in some late evening fairytales, and from the moment the cast come out reciting the infamous tale of Little Redcap I am sucked in and excited for more.
An enjoyable production with a generous and enthusiastic cast
Marketed as a feminist examination of the classic European folk and fairytales famously collected by the Grimm brothers, The Grandmothers Grimm invites its audience into the rooms of the Grimm brothers who are in the editing process of their famed anthology. Joining the brothers in their musings is local storyteller Marie Hassenpflug who is desperately trying to steer the brothers away from overtly sexist narratives whilst keeping intact the integrity of the original storytellers from whom they bartered their tales. With Marie and the brothers' dialogue as the backbone of the production, the cast dips into reciting prominent tales such as The Pig Prince, Donkey-Skin, Sleeping Beauty and The Sun, Moon and Talia.
Filled with passion, and making clever use of asides and props, The Grandmothers Grimm is a thought-provoking take on the classic fairy-tale narrative. Nevertheless, I would be hesitant to call it an outright ‘feminist drama’, rather an exploration of the Grimms fairytales that has feminist undertones. Using this disclaimer suggested to me more of a contemporary/Angela Carter-esque re-telling of the tales, rather than one that is still very much male-led. I also find that at moments the swiftness and overlapping of the casts lines makes for a rather erratic atmosphere. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it makes the performance feel quite breathless at times and I believe, given some of the difficult issues being discussed, it would benefit from some more breathing space to let the language sink in. On the whole, an enjoyable production with a generous and enthusiastic cast looking to challenge the experimental storytelling landscape.