Tuesday 16 October 2018

Hansel and Gretel (a nightmare in eight scenes)

Hansel & Gretel: a nightmare in eight scenes - Goldfield Productions (Photo Still Moving Media courtesy Cheltenham Music Festival)
Hansel & Gretel: a nightmare in eight scenes - Goldfield Productions
(Photo Still Moving Media courtesy Cheltenham Music Festival)
Hansel & Gretel; Goldfield Productions; Milton Court Concert Hall
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on 12 October 2018 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
Dark and quirky: multimedia interpretation of Hansel & Gretel

On Friday 12 October 2018, Milton Court Concert Hall, in Silk Street, was the venue for Goldfield Productions’ multimedia Hansel and Gretel [see Robert's interview with Kate Romano, Goldfield Productions' artistic director]. It was a mixture of poetry, chamber music, puppetry and shadow play. Inspired by the striking visual creations of artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Simon Armitage’s poetic libretto, given voice by the captivating Adey Grummet, was woven in to Matthew Kaner’s evocative chamber music. Hansel and Gretel were brought to life by the table-top puppeteers Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort whilst the characters of the mother, father and the cathartid witch were created using shadow puppetry.

Described as dark and quirky, that’s just how it should be.
The modern idea of happy ever after as default has been carefully crafted by companies selling us happiness as entertainment in order to sell us stuff. But real life, like most fairy tales, is messy and it’s enough that our protagonists escape with their lives.

In this coming of age tale poor Hansel and Gretel are refugees from conflict rather than famine. Its edgy music, darkly wicked tone and haunting imagery left a lasting impression but in the end if it didn’t quite hang together for me it certainly wasn’t the fault of the performers.

I’m sure the puppeteers could have stolen my heart but they were lost behind the bouncing bouffant hairdo of an audience member in front of me. And unfortunately, the projections onto the upstage screen brought the puppeteers’ hands into sharp relief rather than the minutiae of the puppeteers’ art. Adey Grummet gave a bravura performance but she too was lost from time to time beneath Kaner’s dark soundscape. As a result my eyes and ears darted from one element to another struggling to find a guide through the drama. This production may have worked perfectly well in other venues, but the elements here seemed disparate leaving me all adrift in its multi-faceted world.
Reviewed by Anthony Evans

Hansel and Gretel (a nightmare in eight scenes)
Milton Court Concert Hall
Friday 12 October 2018
Narrator : Adey Grummet
Puppeteers : Diana Ford, Lizzie Wort
Music : Matthew Kaner
Direction : Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Goldfield Ensemble

Elsewhere on this blog:
  •  Something for everyone: Gershwin's Porgy and Bess from English National Opera (★★★★)  - opera review
  •  Handel's Radamisto from English Touring Opera (★★★★½) - Opera review
  • Portrait of a life (or many): Art songs from the African diaspora (★★★★) - concert review
  • Crowd-funding & collaboration: new choral music from Lumen  - interview
  • Double concerto for bandoneon and violin (★★★½) - CD review
  • The choral music of Richard Allain (★★★½) - CD review
  • Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots returns to the Paris Opera - Opera review
  • Modified Rapture: Verdi's Aida from the Met (★★★½) - Opera review
  • The Emperor's Fiddler - violinist David Irving on historical approaches on his new disc - interview
  • Schubert's Winter Journey - Robin Tritschler and Malcolm Martineau at Wigmore Hall  - (★★★★★Concert review
  • Swan songs - Gerald Finley and Julius Drake at Temple Song  (★★★★★)  - Concert review
  • Love & Obsession: Robert & Clara Schumann and Brahms at Conway Hall - concert review
  • New dance double bill from New English Ballet Theatre & The English Concert (★★★★)  - Ballet Review
  • Pared down & claustrophobic: La Tragédie de Carmen from Pop-Up Opera  (★★★) - Opera review
  •  Home

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