Aug 11

Review: Grimm Tales, Chichester

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Grimm Tales – For Young and Old
Adapted by Philip Wilson
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre at the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood
Until 19 August

Photo credit: Johan Persson

If you go down to the woods today… Just when it seems impossible for Chichester Festival Youth Theatre (CFYT) to achieve any greater heights they come along and smash it of the park. The sculpture park, in this instance.

The Cass Sculpture Foundation is the perfect setting for Grimm Tales. Woodland paths, tree-lined hollows and sheltered clearings provide a series of glorious natural stages. Greeted by a raggle-taggle band of minstrels beckoning us into the woods, the music throughout is evocative, catchy and haunting. All members of the Youth Theatre, these young troubadours are exceptional and add greatly to both the charm and continuity of the production.

Starting with Little Red Riding Hood and followed at different locations by Hansel and Gretel, Hans My Hedgehog, The Goose Girl at the Spring, The Three Snake Leaves, Rapunzel and The Juniper Tree, these yarns are grim indeed. Adultery, murder, child abduction, cannibalism – Mr Disney may have prettied some of them up for the big screen, but in their original form these fairy tales offer no trace of saccharine sparkle or Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. Marvellously dark, but not without humour, Philip Wilson’s adaptations are magical, mysterious and utterly spellbinding.

Under the skilful direction of Dale Rooks the acting is uniformly superb. Remaining totally in character even when leading the audience from location to location, even those in minor roles demonstrate the discipline and focus of seasoned professionals. It would be grossly unfair (and almost impossible) to single out any one performance.

Testament to the excitement and enrichment of the experience, the smiles of the cast at the curtain call are wider than that of Grandma’s wolf. With satellite groups across the county, West Sussex children are so lucky to have CFYT available to them. Especially at a time when funding cuts threaten to hack drama and the arts down to almost nothing in some schools.

Ably supported by members of the Technical Youth Theatre, as darkness fell there wasn’t a star in the sky to outshine this supremely talented company.

Tickets: 01243 781312 www.cft.org.uk
There is no parking at the sculpture park, but a highly efficient system of park-and ride coach transport is in operation from Chichester College.