Brighton Fringe 2012
Acclaimed family musical in which "girl in a red hood must defeat an evil fairy queen and save the world."
Billed as part of the ‘Supersheep Chronicles’, this is a production for younger children. Red Riding Hood is eighteen…
A cast of seven bring an engaging and well crafted story to vivid life on stage with music by James Williams and written and directed by Lesley Ross.
Staged simply at the Friends’ Meeting House, a full house bears witness to the popularity of this troupe, and to a story told, shown and sung by an ensemble oozing synergy. The musical score often has a Les Mis feel and also flirts with mainstream West End musical style. There’s humour for young ones and a more than a few comedy caps are doffed to adults as well without polluting the magic too much.
The chorus becomes a kind of home port to ensure the narrative’s thread of continuity is maintained. The staging is direct and the story and dialogue are accessible.
Gregory Ashton’s Queen of The Night is camp comedy blended with pantomime dame in a play that blends traditional with modern and the appearance of "Supersheep" amid fairies and bad wolves will suit some more than others.
There’s visually enough to keep the children attentive right through, with colourful costumes, full throated singing and plenty of twists and turns in the story. Not all of the singing is projected equally and this feels a bit uneven acoustically.
Physically some of the choreography needs tightening up. And in the Supersheep song some of the lead singing was out of sync with the piano accompaniment. It could all do with being that bit tighter.
A real highlight was Red’s confrontation with the disguised wolf. Clever lyrics, strong duet singing and wonderfully realised wolf scariness.
But this is a show that needs lighting. The venue’s muffled acoustics doesn’t make it easy for the narrative to really hit the back row. And there’s little in this vanilla lighting to evoke a mood.
The key thing for any children’s show is the children, and the challenge is to keep them all with the story. Attentions can easily wander and allowing them to sit on the carpeted floor at the front is a good call. From the moments of audience participation be in no doubt that the children stayed with the show from start to finish. This is down to regular enjoyable songs, fully committed performances from every performer, as well as a pacy story.
It’s a production with a lot of heart that needs to find (or perhaps refind) some consistency in its clearly high production values. And in a venue with no lighting but four globe handing bulbs, the evocation of a magical world falls short. But recommended for such good story performing and full on acting and singing.