With fairy tale reboots, retellings and revamps being very popular today, it is difficult to find a fresh take on the classics. Luckily, writers Ian Dagger, Pippa Evans and Rosalind Adler manage to tackle this task resulting in an entertaining, funny and occasionally truly clever hour of comedy.
In just 60 minutes we see well-known characters such as Jack the Beanstalker, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella struggle with issues that bring them closer to our world: Cassie Atkinson’s delightfully ugly Mrs Giant complains about her marriage that has gone cold and confesses her love affair with Jack; Evans portrays a fourteen-year-old Red who would rather hang out with her crush than visit her grandmother; and Cinderella, played by Adler, is terrified of turning into her stepmother.
Dagger’s pieces are incredibly witty and really put the focus on the carefully chosen and wonderfully droll words, delivered with great comic timing by Atkinson and Nathan Dean Williams: they have an incredible chemistry on stage, even though their characters never talk to each other directly. Meanwhile Adler’s writing sadly lacks the punctuality and familiar comedy that is consistent in the rest of the show; however, her characterisation of Cinderella is on point. And while each piece has its charm and strengths, Evans stole the show for me. Her hormonal and emotionally unstable Red is familiar yet refreshing, and it left me in stitches. Evans manages to sum up the essence of being a teenager, while being fully committed to this incredible character she creates, even when bursting into song. Her take on the wolf is equally entertaining and allows her to showcase her range as she completely transforms her posture, movements and voice. She brings us a wolf who doesn’t want to eat you and is tired of being on the periphery of society; although we have seen the misunderstood villain before, her wolf still manages to surprise us as he suddenly becomes dangerously vicious talking about his dream of becoming the alpha.
Anna Lewis’s charming design is simple yet effective; her trees are made up from fairy tale pages, forming a delightful forest and serving as the perfect backdrop to the characters. Each piece presents well-rounded, multi-dimensional humans instead of black and white stock characters, and so Three Writers Walk Into A Forest reminds us that no one is purely evil or good. In spite of the countless retellings and adaptations, these classic tales still can have something new in them if you look hard enough.
Three Writers Walk Into A Forest is playing at Theatre503 until 18 July. For more information and tickets, see the Theatre503 website.