Review: Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales

recounts her visit to the Bargehouse’s exhibition, Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales, and its enchanting, magical aura

Image: Emma Allden

Image: Emma Allden

Venue: The Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London South Bank

This winter a wander down London’s South Bank could take you somewhere with a touch more magic than the typical tourist spots. The Bargehouse at the Oxo Tower Wharf is playing host to the imaginings of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales in an immersive theatrical experience for young and old.  The Grimm’s Fairy Tales are a collection of German tales published by the Grimm brothers in 1812. These tales have had a widespread influence and several are an integral part of popular culture today, though our well-loved Disney adaptations are much altered from the originals.

Philip Pullman’s retelling of the Grimm Tales keeps these classics alive, ensuring fidelity to the somewhat sinister German stories whilst adding a splash of modern wit. Pullman said ‘Swiftness is a great virtue in the fairy tale. All we need is the word “Once…” and we’re off’, and it is with swiftness that the actors take you on a tour of the Bargehouse – each room transformed into the enchanted world of the Brothers Grimm, six fairy tales taken from page to performance in front of you. It is both theatrically and artistically wonderful to behold, the innovative space free to explore at your will once the performances have concluded.

Although only six of the vast collection of Grimm Tales are adapted for the audience (The Frog King or Iron Heinrich, Hansel and Gretel, Faithful Johannes, Thousandfurs, The Goose Girl at the Spring, The Three Little Men in the Woods), echoes of many other, perhaps more familiar tales can be found throughout – just round the corner a misplaced slipper, or a row of seven neat little beds. Producer Val Coward details how they’ve transplanted Pullman’s Grimm Tales ‘into the raw, atmospheric rooms of the iconic Bargehouse…[where] you can really sense the magic and delight in the players and audience as each story unfolds’.

Recently extended to the 11th April 2015, Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales are well worth a visit, with Student tickets at almost half the Adult price.

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