If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel hung out together, Into The Woods is the show for you!
Performed by the students of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, the production is based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.
First performed on Broadway in 1987 and turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and James Corden in 2014, the adventure is a mash up of the classic fairytales with a dark twist.
The story centres on a baker and his wife who long for a child but have been cursed by a witch. The curse can be lifted if they provide four items: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. Enter the fairytale legends Jack, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella!
Act one centres on the couple’s attempts to fulfil the witch’s demands. There are humorous exchanges as recognisable moments like Jack buying magic beans, Cinderella going to the ball and Red Riding Hood’s grandmother being eaten by a wolf are intertwinned into one epic adventure.
They all seem to be destined to live happily ever at the end of the first half, but act two takes a dark turn and the characters must come together to defeat a common enemy.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
The degree students of Bristol Old Theatre School perform the show. Their singing of the catchy tunes is strong and there are some impressive performances throughout the cast.
We loved Shaniya Hira and Molly Hanly as the hilariously evil step sisters, while other stand out performances come from Olivia Memmati as the suitably over the top witch and Roxanne Morgan as the baker’s wife who tackles with aplomb sensitive issues like fertility alongside more comedic moments.
The woods, a key character itself in the show, is displayed by a simple but effective set design of wooden planks. The costumes are great too, and we have to give a special shout out to the wooden cow.
The character of the common enemy in act two (we won’t give it away) could be illustrated more strongly, but Into The Woods is a triumph overall. Given these impressive young actors are not yet performing professionally, the future looks bright for the future of UK theatre!
Into The Woods is at The Redgrave Theatre in Bristol until 7 December 2023.
Images by Craig Fuller