A model train takes us in the spooky intro on a journey to Grimsby: Accompanied first by the harmonica, then the birdsong from The Juniper Tree, it is interpreted as a shanty for one, fitting our times and the North German original – the more than morbid, taboo-heavy story of the Juniper Tree is one of the few fairy tales in the Grimm collection published in its Lower German (originating from my home soil).
We meet five storytellers in silent movie era makeup, all filmed from different perspectives separately – their big eyebrows and often manic eyes, newspaper suits and missing teeth give the gloomy feeling of us glimpsing into cells of a Victorian asylum.
Plenty of effort has been put in the choice of lighting with the use of different dimmers, shades, lamps, lanterns and fire and further smoke effects, laces, peep holes and bare trees. Sad synth sounds and lonely piano chords add to the threatening atmosphere. Water drops. An owl howls. Grim, grim, grim. This is the opposite of the emoji colour palette; this is what dedicated online theatre should look like.
Reminding us never to underestimate the power of the full moon, they tell and combine a selection of the Brother Grimm’s darkest tales: Among the Juniper Tree, we hear of likewise-terrifying Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin and the much lesser-known tales The Moon and The Godfather and Godfather Dead twin stories.
Because of the online conference format, I have already used on this endless day already for ten hours including my al desko lunch, my mind has not drifted as deeply into the realm of faerie as I had hoped. I actually might have preferred to watch Grimm Tales on demand and another time, when I was less screened out. The candle I have lit next to my laptop looks weak rather than adding to tonight’s spirit.
However, I want to know what Creation Theatre does next and I hope it follows the same way as tonight’s Grimm Tales for Fragile Times and Broken People.
**** out of 5 stars
Tickets were £20. Streaming was available afterwards.
Grimm Tales For Fragile Times And Broken People is the first in a series of productions by Creation Theatre’s new online Repertory Company who created this play, directed by Gari Jones