Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Fat Content are three seriously talented youngsters. Fresh faced and untrained, they have created something truly remarkable. Based on the premise of Hansel and Gretel, The Gannet takes us on a bizarre journey of coming of age, breaking taboos and expressing sexuality. With truly beautiful backdrops, hilarious dialogue and a dancing cupcake – yes, you heard – this is one hundred percent unmissable!
Hansel and Gretel have grown up in a confined and diseased dystopia, where women and men have to live separately and consequently Gretel has had to live as a boy for a majority of her life. One day, a gang discovers her true sexuality and she and her brother rapidly leave the city, through the tunnel and into the forest. Scared and alone, a bird tells them of The Gannet, where they can rest, get food and earn money. Their journey through the forest to the mysterious Gannet will change them forever: from children they will become adults, with help from a few of the forests’ surreal creatures.
The initial rainy city provides a brilliant contrast to the spectacle to come: the awkwardness of the siblings makes the pace seem somewhat tepid but this only highlights the rapid descent into craziness. The move from city to forest is originally dealt with and visually very clever: our narrator playing the cello and creating sound effects whilst two torch lights stumble across the screen. This is only an indicator of brilliant things to come in regards to their backdrop: it is quite outstanding what this company can do with a screen and some coloured lighting. Their set is totally faultless, their tech seamless and the whole piece exudes a wonderful cinematic atmosphere.
All three actors are exceptional: they are sharply physical and captivating to watch. Hansel and Gretel are endearing and quirky and the creatures of the forest all have their own highly individual characteristics that are expressed instantly and continued throughout. The way these actors move and hold themselves on stage is very impressive and breathes life into every character they portray.
The piece is a work of visionary excellence: minute details are thought of and delivered with excellence. The cast’s costumes are simple and beautiful – they are pieces of art. The music used throughout is haunting, disturbing, and in places brings comedy to a dark piece of surrealism. Fat Content have a very distinct style: a sort of Burlesque Cabaret, Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland, garish, sexual, picture book. The play is a sensory attack and a true experience as well as an outstanding piece of theatre.
I cannot rave about this enough. I could write another 2000 words explaining, in detail, why this is excellent. Instead, I urge you, no I demand that you go and see this for yourself and see what I mean. I warn you though: it’s intense surrealism and abstract nature isn’t for everyone and is so far removed from traditional theatre that some may not know what to make of it. This is, however, why it is so good: you will never have seen anything like this and probably will never see anything that could come even close to comparing. It’s brilliant. See it now.