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Monday, 14 December 2009

Grimm Tales

I went to see Grimm Tales at Manchester's Library Theatre last week and it was fantastic! Energetically performed and deliciously dark - it was great to see the Grimm's tales getting an outing with the grim bits left in.

First performed in 1994 at the Young Vic, the play was adapted from the Grimm's tales by Carol Ann Duffy and dramatised by Tim Supple. This production has been directed for the Library Theatre by Rachel O'Riordan and is engagingly performed by eight actors, dressed like a raggedy troupe of storytellers, who dance, act, make music and tell the tales with relish.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the eclectic selection of tales; there was a real mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. I also thought the inclusion of Ashputtel and The Lady and the Lion worked well as people are usually more familiar with their French literary predecessors, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

Here are the Grimm's tales that are used in the show in versions that are available online:

Hansel and Gretel (here I've linked to a page that gives translations of both the 1812 and 1857 versions - which makes for very interesting reading)
The Golden Goose
Iron Hans
The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage
The Lady and the Lion (also known as The Singing, Springing Lark)
Little Red Cap

I'd also really recommend Carol Ann Duffy's book Rumpelstiltskin and other Grimm Tales (1999) which includes her versions of all of the above (apart from The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage), and many more, and is a delight to read.

There's an interview with Duffy on the Library Theatre website, in which she talks about how she went about retelling the tales.

I've also written a review of the show for a site called Artsphere here.

Grimm Tales is on at The Library Theatre until 23rd January - get there if you can!

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