“Christmas at The Gate 2017”
Size definitely isn’t everything! We all thoroughly enjoyed this small (at just over an hour long) but perfectly formed show put on by Black Rat Productions at The Gate in Cardiff. The show was performed in the converted church with the audience sitting in the former pews around the stage. This allowed for lots of audience participation and meant that we really felt that we were part of the show!
The props were simple but creative with only two sets – a painted forest which was pulled apart halfway through the show, by Hansel and Gretel, to reveal a delicious-looking candy cottage! The actors encouraged us to use our imaginations to conjure up dense forests, a river to skim stones across and games of pooh sticks!
The cast of four was fantastic with each brilliantly inhabiting the character that they were playing. In particular Sarah Jayne Hopkins, who played Verruca, the woodcutter’s wife/ the witch was brilliant and she really brought the character to life with just the right mixture of scariness and humour.
We all liked Gretel, the feisty heroine with a conscience played by Jemima Nicholas, who was a much better role model for the girls than the rather wish-washy heroines who appear in more traditional pantos! Her relationship with her brother, Hansel, captured sibling relationships perfectly with lots of bickering and squabbling while being completely devoted to each other!
Another favourite was Ginger, the singing and dancing, vegan gingerbread man who had all the audience rapping along with him.
This dark fairytale, which was faithful to the original Grimm tale with a few Christmas references thrown in, could have been frightening for a young audience but the mix of humour, music and choreography meant that it was never anything other than fun and entertaining! There were lots of songs borrowed from musicals, such as Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better from Annie Get Your Gun and Evil Like Me from the Descendants, which added to the energy of the show and had the audience singing along!
This is Black Rat Productions’ 8th year at this unique performance space. The show was written and produced by Richard Tunley, and directed by Tunley and Sam Davies, Hansel and Gretel.
We would highly recommend this show to children of all ages – twelve-year-old Nia enjoyed it just as much as her younger siblings, Rhydian and Megan and, apart from a bit much dry ice which was so dense that we could taste it, we have nothing but good things to say about this production!
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