Saturday, December 05, 2015

Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf: magical, musical, must see (Lyric Theatre until 3 January)

Children’s fairy tales can be very dark, and the Lyric’s version of Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf makes no attempt to water down the sinister elements of the story. On top of the classical tale of a granny and girl eating wolf defeated by the woodsman’s axe are layers of edgy intrigue by writer Derek O’Connor, magical direction from Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney and beautiful music from the fingers of Ursula Burns.

The first scene creates a visually strong start and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But expect stars, the moon and a song from a piano that Elton John would covet during the opening number “I’m lonely as a wolf”.

Very quickly audience involvement is sought as we become acquainted with the travelling troupe of Maestro family actors who tour around telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Christina Nelson and Frankie McCafferty play the “family first” Mum and Dad, helped out by twin sisters - “not identical!” - Rosie and Rachel. Practically-minded Rosie (Charlotte McCurry) looks after all the backstage production and feels under-appreciated while Rachel (Roisin Gallagher) takes the glory treading the boards.
“You may think you know this one, but trust me you don’t. A prequel, a sequel and all at the same time.”

The tale takes a sinister twist when the real wolf appears and Rosie is lured into peril becoming the new Red. “I hate to tell you I’m going to eat you for my dinner” sings “Big Bad” (Kyron Bourke) with a suitably wild hairstyle that looks like a can of hair spray exploded over his bonce.

The on stage music carries the story along and sets the mood for each scene. Along with saxophonist, drummer and lots of incidental percussion, Ursula Burns switches back and forth from keyboard to harp as well as singing. There’s nothing incidental: every ding and every clack is synchronised with the choreography of some on-screen action. The lyrics have lots of repetition and it’s not difficult for kids to follow.

The cast’s voices are all strong and blend well. They’re also micced up well enough to carry over the constant accompaniment of sweet packet opening and children’s chatter. Early on as narrator, Charlotte McCurry talks, sings, plays percussion and flute.

“One thing is constant, you need a bad wolf in the story” ... even if only to make children brush their teeth. But maybe the bad wolf can be stopped and turned into a bad-good wolf before wrecking anymore havoc and misery in the forest?

The ninety minute show (including interval) is a good length for young children and is jammed full of memorable imagery, strong tunes (“December Moon” a favourite) and magic. Jokes about scones go down well with the adults, and the large scale illusions works for all ages

Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf is a really ambitious production and the talented cast and team at the Lyric Theatre carry it off with aplomb. It’s a spectacular Christmas show and runs until 3 January. Your inner child really wants to see it!


Anonymous said...

Good but for adults - Far too sophisticated & advanced for young audience. My 7 & 3 year old nephews were lost in this story line.
We expected a "real" pantomime involving the audience participation. Children wanted to leave at interval. Other children seem just as confused. Very disappointed having spent quite a lot of money as children's present Wish we had gone to GOH to a proper pantomime

Anonymous said...

I was rather apprehensive after some rather flat Christmas productions in the past few years from the Lyric and the disaster of Little Prince , but this production is a triumph in every way.
I loved it and so did everyone in my party.
A stunning return to form for the Lyric.
I'm off to the MAC and GOH in the next week and they will have to go some way to beat Red snd Big Bad.
Thank you.