REVIEW: Grimms Tales at Chipping Campden School

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Chipping Campden School pupils pictured this week in rehearsal for Grimms Fairy Tale featuring Mery Sutherland as Tatty, the head narrator, left, Scarlett Clarke as Ashputtel and Charlie Johnson as the Prince. The production is directed by Katie Curran and Tracey James with original music by Geoff Carr. Photo: Mark Williamson C53/10/18/6009A

Steve Sutherland reviews the school production which ran from 18th to 19th October

“Rackety-coo, there’s blood in the shoe, there’s blood in the shoe…”

Chipping Campden School served up an early ghoulish treat last week with their pre-half term production of Grimm Tales which focussed on three cautionary stories from the Brothers’ famous collection, the directors (Ms James, Mrs Curran and Mr Cottage) cleverly taking us back to the skeletal original sources, then mixing in some modern sass and spice to tickle the funny bones.

Familiar to us in a somewhat sanitised form as Cinderella, first up was Ashputtel, played sympathetically by Scarlet Clarke, bullied within an inch of her lovely life by her stepmother and two stepsisters Jess Gregg, Emma Fuller and Millie Hampel. This OTT trio took to animating these absolute pantomime rotters with proper relish and the bit where one sis, then the other slices off toes and a heel to fit into the shoe was deliciously gory. Props too to Charlie Johnson’s hilarious Tim-Nice-But-Dim posh prince.

Next came a lively take on Hansel And Gretel. Edward Wilkinson was hilarious as the woeful dad, Koti Nayler had a ball with the villainous mum, Odette Dyer’s wicked witch was a suitably nasty piece of work, Tiree Dunn was a neatly timorous Gretel, and Frank Wormald a brave and handsome Hansel. He was later transformed, as if by magic, into the villainous, bald and boastfully polygamist King Rat in the final piece, The Pied Piper Of Hamelin.

This version had been adapted by Russell Brand so was obviously packed with snotty this, farty that and lashings of sly innuendo. Harrison Lamb’s Fat Bob was truly a sight to behold, a swaggering blob of self regard, and, moving stately amongst all the mayhem, was the Piper, a captivating performance of grace and stature.

Adding to the jollities and colly-wobbles were some jolly catchy macabre singalong songs by Geoff Carr and the whole riotous affair was held on the brink of chaos by Tatty, a cheeky cockney master of ceremonies in an admirable hat performed exquisitely with many a nod and a naughty wink by 12-year-old Mery Sutherland, part cocky fun fair barker, part “It’s-behind-you!” Sweeney Todd.

Shivers, shudders, giggles and guffaws aplenty… who would have thought mutilation, infanticide and incineration could be such fun. Happy Halloween!