Metro Studio Theatre
(Fringe Venue 3)
1411 Quadra Street
Aug 26 07:45 pm
Aug 30 05:15 pm
Aug 31 03:45 pm
Sep 01 05:45 pm
Chimera Theatre‘s revisionist take on the Brothers Grimm fairytale The Robber Bridegroom is simply a masterpiece of German expressionism. Not only is this adaptation a love letter to this artistic movement but also a Shakespearean playwright was behind the reconstruction of the seminal tale. I have to tip my hat to Andrew G. Cooper for his use of turning the Sisters Grimm to a wicked new take of the Moirae as they are the narrators to an otherwise mimed show using various styles of puppetry to tell the story within the story. That is, to recount the seminal tale with sound, light and vision.
Those familiar with this tale knows where the horror lays. Before the daughter can be married away, we are whisked into a dream–a flashback–of her days before the wedding. What we witness is of her meeting the groom for the first time, of her invited to his home and of her discovering what he truly is. All of this is told with the use of skillful puppet theatre antics and creative lighting effects. As much as I wanted to see a light ground fog cover the entire stage, I suspect that’s a restriction Intrepid said that could not be done.
This tale keeps everything from the tale truly dark and very deathly so. When considering the soundscape is a perfect visualization of all that’s unholy, I was in that grip of following the bride’s trip through the stygian forest and quietly whispering, “Go back! Go back!” I recalled enough of the original tale to know what she’ll discover and guess No Face (from Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away) has a distant cousin. Her meeting of a very different looking hag honours the Germanic folkloric traditions well. The wolf is a very traditional fear in this world and I was glad to see this creature haunt the story too.
Within the cusp of where the two tales meet–to return to the waking world–unless someone in the audience did not say something, I wondered how this play would end. I’m sure this production has a backup plan if audience interaction went afoul. Thankfully, the show delivers. Because this travelling show started months ago, they had plenty of time to solidify any hiccups and deliver a solid performance!
Like The Untold Tales of the Brothers Grimm when Chimera Theatre performed in their 2015 Fringe Festival tour, the blend of live-action with puppets gives the stories a breath of fresh air for young and old to enjoy. Honestly, these narratives are not that spooky. When you’re a huge fan of the supernatural like me, there’s a time where you have to switch off those critical sensors so you can get the chills as the creators intended.
5 Blokes out of 5
For more reviews from the 2019 Victoria Fringe Festival, please visit our sister site on otakunoculture.com