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Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf review at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast – ‘spellbinding throughout’

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, Lyric Theatre Belfast Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, Lyric Theatre Belfast

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf first presents as a play within a play, but before long the portmanteau is unpacked and the audience is drawn in to another story, a similar tale but a great deal darker.

The Lyric has fashioned a captivating world in this unique retelling of Red Riding Hood. Stylistically this show might best be described as circus-bohemian – lightbulb-illuminated frames, a caravan and a gypsy folk band help to conjure a romantic fairytale setting.

There is one particular moment of utter ingenuity on the part of the design and technical team: the wolf, while singing and playing a grand piano in front of star cloth and an enormous dazzling full moon, is flown above the stage and spun in the air – pure theatrical joy to behold.

The design of this show is remarkable, but the score also has its moments. It appears to be inspired by a number of different artists and genres. Several of the Wolf’s solos, for instance, have a Tom Waits-style growl, while some numbers call to mind the Brechtian punk cabaret group The Tiger Lillies.

At times the story does drop off somewhat, but this vaudevillian fantasy captures the imagination and mesmerises nonetheless.

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A dark retelling of Red Riding Hood, spellbinding throughout, but not for the very young