Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

hood trio

Love triangle: Ross Shaw as Jack, Rachel Louise Pickard as Principal Girl, Red Riding Hood and Sionainn Kavanagh as Principal Boy (I know, but work with me on this . . .) Prince Alexander. Pictures: Roy Palmer.

Little Red Riding Hood

Hall Green Little Theatre


THE Brothers Grimm’s version of Little Red Riding Hood is . . . well grim, a dark talefull of grannycide and dead wolves, which is not a charge you could lay at the door of Hall Green’s festive version.

Fun, daft and corny, is the order of the day here. This is a sort of panto combo plate with three little pigs (without the pigs of course) meets Scarlet Hood, call me Red, the caped crusader; a Prince nicked from some dark gothic werewolf tale as a garnish and, of course, that traditional fairytale regular, a wicked witch with a chlorophyll complexion, supplying the party with boos.

And if you have an evil (hiss and boo) witch, in this case played with dastardly delight by Charlotte Crowe you need a balancing good, or in this case Wood Fairy, played with sparkly staff by Emily Beaton.

Then instead of three little pigs we have three builders in the village house building contest with houses of straw, wood and finally brick . . . sound familiar?

Knocking up the straw beach hut is Sandy Beach played with some style by Katherine Williams, dudes, who keeps up a consistent Aussie accent, sport, encouraging a surfing moment with the Beather and sandyach Boys Barbara Ann, and if that is not enough beach to be going on with, Jack Lumber has built his wooden hut out of . . . you guessed it. Beech!

But as every wolf, and by now every pig, knows you can’t blow a brick house down and so it proves with the house built by the no-nonsense Arthur Brick (groan) played by James Weetman.

James Weetman as Arthur Brick and Katherine Williams as Sandy Beach, dudes

Ross Shaw meanwhile is our wimpy, lovesick hero Jack who courts disaster every time he tries to court a girl and seems to take more of a battering from friends than enemies, or wolf as the enemy is known in this neck of Hall Green.

And Jack Heath is that wolf; paws, claws and fangs revelling in the boos from an audience packed with beavers, cubs, brownies, scouts and other assorted youngsters who were up for it from the off so much so you suspect the bar and box office staff were probably booed or cheered, depending upon mood, as the audience came in.

When it came to cast v audience the kids won hands down, or screams up to be more honest.

The likes of Daniel Robert Beaton as the dame, Miss Unders Hood (think about it and you will understand it) find their job of developing audience participation made much easier when the kid are shouting behind you, oh no he isn’t, booing and cheering on cue as soon as the curtain rises as if they have been at rehearsals.

Beaton’s “you can do better than that” encouragement only served to raise the volume to levels that would give any self-respecting Health and Safety official apoplexy.

Love interest comes in the form of Red herself, played by Rachael Louise Pickard who helps to hold the show together as the caped crusader protecting the village from the evils of the world, or at least Hall Green, such as wolves and dubious princes.

The dubious prince in this case being AlexanderMiss Unders, Jack and Red, played traditional principal boy, slap your thigh, style by Sionainn Kavanagh, although is the prince really what he . . . she . . . says he . . . she is - a principal boy? Is it Oh yes he is, or Oh yes he isn’t?

Meanwhile with love in the air, or fir in this case, we have Jack’s dad Carl Cutter Lumber, the lumber jack who has a secret romance from the past coming back to haunt, sorry, delight him.

Daniel Robert Beaton as the dame, Miss Unders Hood (groan) with Red and Jack

Then there is Rooney The Reindeer, played by Ryan Alan Dunn according to the programme - although I suspect not all four legs were his own.

Rooney, who can talk with a series of nods and hoof taps, adds a sort of festive air to proceedings. Amid this motley collection from fairyland we have the prince fan club who scream every time his name is mentioned and who also double up as villagers and chorus for musical numbers including Hey Jude and a drift into Queen territory with We are the Champions and Don’t stop me now. We even had a burst of Yakety Sax for a chase sequence for those who remember Benny Hill.

Music of course being helped tremendously by the magical fingers and keyboard of Geddes Cureton with Roy Palmer on percussion, Palmer also being co-director, co-lighting designer and production photographer.

A couple of unscheduled pauses gave the audience, or at least the ears of adults, a brief respite but, be warned, the production will pick up pace and become slicker now the first night is out of the way.

The plot is daft, a bit woolly, or wolfy in this case and the jokes are old (what do you expect? This is panto!) but the kids loved it, and that is what it is all about. To 19-12-15.

Roger Clarke


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