Stephen Sondheim, the master of the bitter/sweet, begins and ends ‘Into The Woods’ with the words ‘I wish…’ In the brilliant couple of hours in between, he lays bare the truth that if we stray from the path in the deep dark woods, we may get what we want, we may sometimes regret it – but we’ll definitely learn. As Little Red Riding Hood says ‘Isn’t it nice to know a lot…and a little bit not.’
The ten actor-musicians of San Francisco’s Fiasco Theater attack this adult fairytale with real bite and verve. They sing all the parts and play all the ‘instruments’, from bucket to bassoon. Everything is ingeniously ‘homespun’ – Rapunzel’s hair is yellow knitted wool and the wolf’s head is a hunting trophy. Sorry Disney, but this imaginative simplicity was more impressive than the recent CGI’d-to-the-max $50 million film version.
Running now through to 17th September at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory.