SATURDAY 3RD DECEMBER 2016 – Unity Theatre, Liverpool – Review by Tate James, originally written for The Reviews Hub.
This festive family offering is a treat from the minute we enter the woods until we leave at the end, humming the tunes. The Unity Theatre is transformed into a dark and mysterious forest direct from the pages of a storybook in a witty and intelligent production that engages adult and child alike.
In the hands of four perfectly-pitched performers we are taken on a fast-paced musical journey through the woods. We all know the story: with her mother’s directions to never stray from the path, Little Red takes a pie to her sick grandmother and happens across a wolf en route. Luca Rutherford’s Little Red is brave and sweet as the pie she carries, in her adamance that she is not a little girl. Natalia Campbell and Simone Lewis (excellent as Mother and Grandma respectively) play matriarch and more as they dance with trees, howl and worry about our young heroine. Harvey Robinson is every bit the suave wolf who charms Little Red, with extra quirk as he insists on the pleasantries and customs of human beings’ mealtime.
Kevin Dyer’s script is tickled with humour and nuance, mirrored by Patrick Dineen’s charming original music. There is no room for twee dialogue or sickly sweet Pantomime-sounding melodies in this show. Instead, under Nina Hajiyianni’s skilful direction, it alludes to Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl with its ability to stimulate its young audience. Sydonie Paterson’s design is simple but enchanting, paired with Julie Kearney’s bold lighting design, to create a versatile woodland space, making the setting extra-magical. The creation of the path and chases through the woods are particular highlights, and even the moments for children’s participation are well-timed and thoroughly entertaining, never obvious or generic.
Whether or not you have plans with your youngsters this Christmas, you should definitely stray from the path to visit the Unity… but watch out for wolves!