Under the Erl Tree

This show by young company Turn the Key adapts the Nordic legend of the Erl King through movement, live music and puppetry. The all female cast create a slightly messy but lovely show, and while there’s one too many custom changes, and occasionally some over-acting, Under the Erl Tree is a show for young children, and there is nothing not to like about it.

The show has its heart in the right place and with some extra work it has the potential to become one of those Fringe festival gems that you wouldn’t want your child to miss.

Elena and her step-sisters Amber and Ruby get along really well and, unlike in many other fairy tales, they consider each other real sisters. So when Elena finds herself caught in a loveless engagement to a prince, her sisters help her escape, which in turn causes the Prince to set free the evil Erl King trapped under his castle so that he might capture Elena and bring her back to him. But the King lied to the Prince, and he is now after Elena in order to eat her and regain strength.

The production is engaging throughout – funny at moments, especially thanks to the physicality of mute stepsister Amber, and eerie at others, as in when the birds cage Elena. The show also presents two very instructive messages, especially to the young girls in the audience: do not engage in a loveless relationship and, even more importantly, do not depend on a man for your fortune.

The changes of scenes and costumes can be made smoother and the acting could do with some polish. But the show has its heart in the right place and with some extra work it has the potential to become one of those Fringe festival gems that you wouldn’t want your child to miss.

Reviews by Alex Reeves

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Elena tries to escape her loveless engagement by eliciting the help of her beloved Ugly stepsisters. They flee into the Enchanted Forest, where she is captured by the malevolent Erl King, who tricked the foolish Prince into setting him free. Her stepsisters must embark on a magical quest through the Enchanted Forest and seek the help of the mysterious Moon Nymph to save Elena and the Enchanted Forest from darkness. Movement, puppetry and live music will come together to create the magical world of Under The Erl Tree, a devised re-imagining of the Erl King tale.

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