This manufacturing of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods was summarily cancelled by the Previous Vic final yr, stated Clive Davis in The Occasions, a number of months earlier than it was as a result of open. Co-director Terry Gilliam – “nonetheless a free spirit on the age of 81” – had, it appears, fallen foul of youthful employees who had been reported to have felt “uneasy” about remarks he had made in regards to the #MeToo motion and transgender points. His “thought crimes”, stated Patrick Marmion within the Every day Mail, apparently included recommending a Netflix particular by the African-American comic Dave Chappelle. “What a aid, subsequently, to see that inventive benefit can nonetheless overcome small minds.” The manufacturing, now staged in Bathtub, is spectacular to behold, and takes a “childlike enjoyment of each facet of James Lapine’s story”, weaving collectively an assortment of fairy tales.
Gilliam deserves “three cheers” for his resilience, stated Dominic Cavendish in The Every day Telegraph. And Theatre Royal Bathtub ought to be applauded too for stepping in – “fairy godmother-fashion” – to stage the piece. The manufacturing itself? “Two-and-a-half cheers.” Visually, it’s certainly “spellbinding” – an virtually “hallucinogenic” feast, stuffed with “surreal surprises”. Animal-headed figures prowl the woods, whereas Rapunzel is “confined to a tower made from two outsized baked beans and backyard peas tins, as if inside some set up by the late Claes Oldenburg”. Vocally, it’s “a blended bag”, nevertheless, with extra “heft, assault and tempo” wanted at factors.
What makes Into the Woods so “irresistible” is that it combines quirky enjoyable with a “profound exploration of parental anxiousness and loss”, stated Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. “First we snicker at its wisecracks and wit, then we really feel for its misplaced folkloric icons.” Gilliam and Leah Hausman’s manufacturing captures the primary high quality: it’s “visually engaging” and playful, and “excels in its aesthetics of darkish, dreamlike otherworldliness”, with fluttering puppetry, beautiful masks and “fabulous” lighting – all splendidly “elegant”. However it lacks true emotional energy, and it by no means “fairly manages to drag us into the musical’s mournful depths”.
Till 10 September at Theatre Royal Bathtub (01225-448844); theatreroyal.org.uk