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Red Riding Hood at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Although named Red Riding Hood the Theatre Royal, Stratford’s seasonal panto offering is not a pure version of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, it is a homage to the whole world of Fairy Tales combined with a nod to climate change, popular culture including a famous cookery show and an anatomy lesson too!

A perfect family treat for the holiday season, without a mention of Christmas in sight!

Red Riding Hood at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Photo credit Bonnie Britain.
Red Riding Hood at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Photo credit Bonnie Britain.

The piece is set in the made-up land of Stratford – on the Down! As we enter the auditorium the stage is set, there are remote control bunnies scooting around the stage, music is playing, the scenery is set, it’s make-believe time! Time to embrace the child inside us all and just sit back and enjoy the show that is about to be performed in front of us.

The talented cast of seven are all triple threats; delivering a very solid and well-executed ensemble production. The performance levels and the energy that the whole cast put into this production was 100% from start to finish.

Our characters on stage (and those mentioned off stage) all come from the tale of fairy! From our hero, Red Riding Hood, to her schoolmate, Bo Peep, her mum Goldilocks, her dad Robin Hood. There is also a wolf and his son, Wolfie and a Huntsman, Woody. I think this was able to add extra depth to their plot and to allow other characters to shine and sing their songs – otherwise, Red Riding Hood’s journey to Granny’s House to deliver her essential shopping and being tricked into bed by the big bad wolf would be a rather short story!

There is a lot to laugh about in this production, two of my favourite scenes being the cookery class that Granny gives Wolfie, this is brilliant. There is some fantastic play on words, (which I’m still chuckling about now) and it’s great to see our actors having as much fun on stage as we are sat in the audience. The second is at the top of act 2 – set in the Wolf’s stomach after he has (spoilers alert!) eaten all of our main characters… This was genius in both concept and execution. If I was to write in emojis, I’d put a poo with a big love heart next to it and a few laughing faces followed by a farting symbol!

I feel it is important to point out that the Book and Lyrics (Carl Miller) and the Music and Lyrics (Robert Hyman) are original compositions, which I found quite rare in a contemporary pantomime. They worked extremely well and the cast even had the audience singing along to these newly penned songs as if they were familiar chart toppers!

The show comprised all the main ingredients of a family panto – we had a man in a dress playing a woman, we had a woman slapping her thigh playing a man, we had audience participation, aplenty, we had song and dance, terrible jokes and the first few rows of the audience get covered in silly string and snow! (The kids seemed to love this, the parents, not so!). We had base humour and toilet jokes, a serious underlying message about climate change and a nod to all things fairy tale! The production team have produced a fun, modern family panto.

The only reason I’m not giving this show 5 stars is that the first half was rather long at 90 minutes and the kids around me were getting very restless and jumping around in their seats and on the floor, and there were a few issues with the sound at the beginning of act one. Other than that, I couldn’t’ and wouldn’t want to fault the production!
I’ll be back next year to see what the Director, Robert Shaw Cameron comes up with.

4 stars

Review by Faye Stockley

We’re taking you into the deep, dark wood where our red-cloaked heroine soon discovers all is not quite as it seems…

CAST
Raphael Bushay – Wolf
Ashley Goh – Bow Peep
Jodie Jacobs – Woody
Luke Latchman – Wolfie
Phil Nichol – Granny
Kirsty Whelan – Mum
Elise Zavou – Red
Anna McGarahan – understudy
Bola Okun – understudy

CREATIVE TEAM
Book and Lyrics by Carl Miller
Music and Lyrics by Robert Hyman
Director – Robert Shaw Cameron
Designer – Jean Chan
Lighting Designer – Rick Fisher
Sound Designer – Helen Skiera
Movement Director – Ingrid Mackinnon
Musical Director – James Doughty
Assistant Director – TD. Moyo
Casting Director – Jacob Sparrow

RED RIDING HOOD
SAT 27 NOV – FRI 31 DEC 2021
https://www.stratfordeast.com/

Author

  • Faye Stockley

    Faye read Theatre & Performance at The University of Warwick; she went on to work as a stage manager in London and Edinburgh. She had a year's stint on-board the MV Island Escape as a Social Host and Compere and now works full time as a Recruitment Manager for the broadcast, entertainment and media sectors.

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