Hansel and Gretel - Dundee Rep (4 stars)

Hansel and Gretel

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Dundee Rep, until Sat 6 Jan

The Pitch A kindly but impoverished woodcutter, with aspirations of becoming the next Gordon Ramsay, dwells on the edge of a forest with his hideously deformed, flatulent wife and two children, inch-thick Hansel and plucky Gretel. Keen to get hubby's cuisine all to herself, Mommie dearest leads the children deep into the forest. As luck would have it, the starving, frightened pair stumbles across a house made out of gingerbread with a welcoming light in the windows . . .

The Verdict Phil Porter's wonderfully inventive twist on the classic Grimm tale hooks his audience of all ages from the up, the angular sets, colourful, elaborate costumes, atmospheric music and uniformly energetic performances creating an exhilarating, deliciously twisted fable for festive theatregoers. There's a strong influence of the grotesque at work here, the villains being reminiscent of some of the more pernicious characters from The League of Gentlemen, with an extraordinary double turn by Ann Louise Ross as evil stepmum and balding, blind, German witch. But the scary moments are offset by a healthy dose of crude humour and various comic supporting characters.

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