By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

Hansel and Gretel with RBL at South Street

Hansel and Gretel with RBL at South Street. Photo courtesy of Pieter Lawman.

Reading Between the Lines (RBL) are staging Hansel and Gretel at South Street Arts Centre in a joyous adaptation by Anna Wheatley during December. This enchanting production is deftly directed by Hal Chambers and set to a sassy soundscape by Benjamin Hudson, with exuberant movement by Rebecca Randall.

We are welcomed into the brightly festooned Outspoken Stage theatre by an outspoken poet, dispensing glow sticks. Gretel, the super smart street poet (played with wonderful wit and warmth by Oriana Charles) zaps onto stage, embracing us in her irresistible aura… the ‘binary finery’ completed by her autistic twin Hansel (a touchingly eloquent portrayal by Oscar Porter, no words needed).

Their parents, the equally evil Torsten (the oafishly belligerent Daniel Creasey, also playing the winsome olde world witch Hexe) and Heike {the magnificently malevolent Meghan Treadway in rollers} scheme to rid themselves of their tiresome teenagers; they lure them to the fantastic Festival of the Forest, the swirling colourful crowds and the bright lights.

Hansel and Gretel with RBL at South Street

Hansel and Gretel with RBL at South Street. Photo courtesy of Pieter Lawman.

There is a delicious interlude with the unsuspecting Gretel and the five star palm reader (the versatile Oscar Porter) in a Demis Roussos robe, who evokes mystic mood music via Alexis to create ‘atmosphere’.

But the twins are inexorably drawn by the sweet scent of candy floss on the air to the witch’s house, built entirely of cake – ‘don’t touch’ she commands, a great deal of ‘time and caster sugar’ have gone into this!

Will good or evil triumph? In a heartwarming and joyful twist, humanity wins the day and stereotypes are confounded.

As the music and lights ramped up, we were up on our feet, dancing with the fabulous and fizzing cast on stage. Thank you RBL, this was dazzling, all-inclusive theatre at its very best. Don’t miss it!

Hansel and Gretel with RBL at South Street

Hansel and Gretel with RBL at South Street. Photo courtesy of Pieter Lawman.

The RBL theatre company performs Hansel and Gretel at the South Street Arts Centre until 31 December. You can buy tickets online or at the South Street Arts Centre box office, 21 South Street Reading RG1 4QU. The performance is ‘family friendly’ and is suitable for ages 8 and up, but there is a special relaxed performance on Friday 20 December where the music will be quieter, lights will be lower and audience members can come and go as they please.


Links
  1. RBL theatre group website and Facebook page
  2. South Street Arts Centre
  3. Hansel and Gretel tickets