Hansel and Gretel review at the MAC, Belfast – ‘mischievous Christmas show for the austerity era’
The MAC’s Hansel and Gretel is a virtual compendium of fairytale and fantasy characters: Three Little Pigs, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, Little Red Riding Hood, Awesome Man and Fantasti-Girl.
Director Rhiann Jeffrey and writers Stephen Beggs and Simon Magill have chucked most of the familiar storyline out of the window in favour of a scenario that chimes with today’s austere economic climate but with a fun-filled exit route.
Rosie Barry and debutant Michael Drake are well cast as the siblings, he a nerdy know-all, she a sensible girl who gets things done. Hit by redundancy, their clueless parents (Louise Matthews and Keith Lynch) decide to make this the perfect Christmas and drag the children out on a credit-financed shopping spree.
But when the shopping centre is hit by an electric storm, the outing turns surreal. Colette Lennon’s leather-clad Sugar Witch cuts loose on Garth McConaghie’s rocky score, though technical glitches do not do full justice to her strong voice. Richard Croxford is in fine fettle as a traditional green-clad Santa and a lifelike Big Bad Wolf. When order is restored the Sugar Witch has melted away and the family Christmas idyll is charmingly delivered by Barry at the piano.
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