A riotous, rebellious adventure where fairy tales interwine in the deep, dark woods
Silly, zany and chaotic with plenty of laugh out loud moments, Assembleth Theatre’s new production, Fairytales, Fables and Other Assorted Nonsense, showing in Plymouth in the run up to Christmas is a great way to spend 70 minutes.
The quirky, vibrant little venue that is the Barbican Theatre, metres from the hustle and bustle of the high street and the Hoe, was the perfect choice for this show which had just the right amount of festive fun for people looking to enjoy themselves without the tinsel overload.
Armed with my programme and a complimentary mince pie, I was directed to a front row seat with only a slight concern that I was in the firing line for any potential audience participation. There was some but at that point most people were in hysterics so it hardly mattered!
It was billed as a riotous, rebellious adventure ... and that it was ... as clever storytelling and three talented actors, two playing numerous parts, intertwined some of our favourite fairy tales in a mish mash of hilarity, ridiculous deaths and happy endings, flying frogs and sword fighting with French baguettes.
The basic storyline is this: Little Red Riding Hood has taken control of the fairytale woods, this once sweet girl now rules with an iron fist and a mob of incompetent wolves… enter accidental hero Susan who only went out to buy a book for her nephew’s birthday and gets transported inside the story.
Susan’s timid presence and frightened demeanour turns into sassiness and strength when she navigates the woods with a compass (a pencil one) and meets the formidable and French Snow White who trains her to defeat Little Red Riding Hood and restore freedom to the Three Little Pigs, three bears (from Goldilocks), Cinderella, the seven dwarfs (from Snow White) and the rest of the fairytale characters who had been living in fear of their lives.
But it’s baddy number two, the not-so charming Prince Charming turned lawyer for the prosecution who commands the stage with attempts to pin the deaths of several characters on Susan with the help of two members of the audience as judges. By this point he is throwing the Frog Prince, a soft toy, all over the place, and making the magic mirror tell lies all in a bid to get what he wants…. Susan in jail …but like all fairytales the baddy gets his just rewards and Susan saves the day…. and is transported back to the bookshop where it all started.
This is a real giggle and full marks to Ryan Full who plays bookshop owner, narrator, big bad wolf, wolfie, baby bear, the seven dwarfs, the larger-than life Prince Charming and Archibald and Tanya Wylie who is Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, little pig 1 and 2, mama bear and Cinderella together with Charlie Limm who plays our hero “the mighty Susan”. The range of accents is truly extraordinary and the actors go seamlessly from Welsh to Scottish and French in the blink of an eye.
Assembleth Theatre, as it name suggests, is an all encompassing theatre company based in Plymouth. The company tour unique and fast paced comedy to bring their signature brand of what they call “irreverent nonsense” to audiences across the nation.
Co-writer and co-director Plum Grosvenor-Stevenson said,“ We’ve had an amazing time making this show and alongside it, we have been able to deliver three months of workshops with young people aged 15-18 in Plymouth to help develop some of the key concepts, which has been an absolute blast!”
It was a great little show and I’m set up for Christmas now. Who needs the panto!