The Wrong Crowd has a lot of fun with this loose adaptation of the classic fairytale. Relocated to a 1950s beauty salon and set to an original score by composer and musical director Sophie Byrne, Snow White becomes a story about how it’s hard work and good intentions, not beauty, that prove one’s worth.
Playwright Mike Akers weaves characters from other fairytales and nursery rhymes into a witty script that’s cheerfully underscored by Byrne on keyboard and a rotating selection of cast members on a variety of other instruments.
Director Hannah Mulder keeps her talented cast busy – when they’re not acting, playing an instrument or singing backing vocals they’re manipulating Rachael Canning’s set or puppeteering the family of moles that the Wrong Crowd have wisely opted for as alternatives to the seven dwarves. All this business keeps the energy up and creates a real ensemble feel.
Akers includes knowing nods to some of the grizzlier elements of the original fairytale without ever giving the impression of being bound by its conventions. There’s no trace of the sexism or consent issues that make the Disney version so problematic, and the show’s references to royalty are reassuringly irreverent in this age of princess worship.
The silly antics of the beauty salon and the darker scenes in the forest after Snow White’s flight from her murderous aunt don’t quite match up in terms of tone. That’s a shame because there’s plenty to enjoy in both styles, the latter in particular offering a tantalising glimpse of the magic The Wrong Crowd is able to conjure up when it comes to visual storytelling.