Jonathan Stone puts the story first in a vaguely Bavarian-set Hansel and Gretel which has plenty of fun but smacks of inhibition, as if it were itching to release its inner pantomime.
Karen Fishwick is a strong and sparky Gretel, quite full of her own goodness and ready to lecture Ben Fitzpatrick’s lazy Hansel - good-for-nothing but a load of fun. Happy but impoverished, they are facing the reality of a Christmas with no presents as the looked down-upon no-marks of the village. Papa (Paul Harper-Swan) can’t get a job and Mama (Gayle Telfer Stevens) can’t even cook a talking cabbage.
The arrival of cannibalistic aunt Whilimena (Stevens) who happens to be a witch, and her slave Herman (Harper-Swan) - too flatulent for her to eat - leads to the usual trip into the forest. The only real divergence being Whilimena’s demise in the explosive use of Herman’s farts to stun her when her head is in the lit oven.
Alison Irwin’s set is evocative with excellent village home and gingerbread house. A “portrait” of Nikki Auld as the magical Grandma fails to make up for lack of a fifth ensemble member. Four strong performances of a production, and script, which lacks attention to detail.