Thursday, 17 January 2019

REVIEW: Little Red Riding Hood - New Adelphi Theatre, Salford

This production of Little Red Riding Hood (part of the university's TaPP Fest) was a modern retelling of the classic fairytale; set against a backdrop of a haunted woods where a group of girl guides go camping and one little girl, Frieda Innocent, gets separated from her pack. The show was produced as a piece of theatre in education which toured local primary schools in Salford before Christmas and this particular performance was presented to family, friends and peers as a ‘homecoming’ in their own university theatre space, the New Adelphi theatre. With a cast of ten, this production featured everything you would expect from a piece of children’s theatre from colourful costumes, lively characterisation and lots of audience interaction.

The TaPP Festival is a project for year two undergraduates on the BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance Practice degree at the university. Students are given the opportunity to work with professionals; in this case, it was director David Crowley and he is no stranger to children’s theatre as he has been directing children’s Christmas shows across the North West for the past 7 years. In addition to this, he has an accolade of theatre and TV credits under his belt from picking up MTA awards to directing theatre productions for the West Yorkshire Playhouse and being the on-set acting coach for Lime Pictures. So for the undergraduates to have the privilege of working with an industry professional is a real treat and the audience had high expectations.

Advertised as a lively retelling of the story, using singing dancing and physical storytelling, the show was a slow starter, due to the script being dialogue only. However, once the music and dancing kicked in, the energy really lifted and there were some extremely entertaining moments. The girl guides and their Wise Owl leader, played by Ingrid Hillcoat created a lovely ensemble style performance, especially in their choreography and use of the theatre space when searching for Frieda in the woods. There was also a great cameo role from Dave The Donkey who helped the girl guides on their way, played by the lively Zoe King. Her tap dancing donkey was a cute creation of an engaging children’s character with some lovely movement and comic timing.

But without a doubt the strongest and most entertaining performers on the stage were the three actors who played the wolves: Ibraheem Ahmed (Rex), Adam Winskill (Mr. Barker) and Nathan Hamilton (Tex). They had such an endearing manner in their creation of the slapstick baddies which was a treat to watch and had the audience (both young and old) in stitches of laughter. With brilliant moments of comedy throughout the entire show, my favourite had to be the Fortnight dances and opera singing when the girls finally had control of them.

The only downside I really felt was the audience themselves. The cast of ten looked like they were having so much fun in this performance and it was an absolute delight to watch with a primary school aged child. I would have really loved to watch the show in one of the schools in the original tour before Christmas as the children would have undoubtedly been screaming in delight. Unfortunately, the Salford university students weren’t quite so receptive and some of the comments from their friends seated near me, somewhat spoiled the experience.

The TaPP Festival will continue over the next few weeks with performances at the New Adelphi theatre and the Lowry and it is certainly worth a visit, whether to see the standard of work being produced or as a prospective under graduate for the university.

Reviewer - Johanna Hassouna-Smith
on - 16/1/19

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