This manufacturing of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods was summarily cancelled by the Outdated Vic final 12 months, mentioned Clive Davis in The Instances, a couple of months earlier than it was resulting from open. Co-director Terry Gilliam – “nonetheless a free spirit on the age of 81” – had, it appears, fallen foul of youthful workers 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”, mentioned Patrick Marmion within the Every day Mail, apparently included recommending a Netflix particular by the African-American comic Dave Chappelle. “What a reduction, subsequently, to see that inventive advantage can nonetheless overcome small minds.” The manufacturing, now staged in Tub, is spectacular to behold, and takes a “childlike enjoyment of each side of James Lapine’s story”, weaving collectively an assortment of fairy tales.
Gilliam deserves “three cheers” for his resilience, mentioned Dominic Cavendish in The Every day Telegraph. And Theatre Royal Tub must 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 nearly “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 combined 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 nervousness and loss”, mentioned Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. “First we chuckle 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 attractive” and playful, and “excels in its aesthetics of darkish, dreamlike otherworldliness”, with fluttering puppetry, attractive masks and “fabulous” lighting – all splendidly “elegant”. Nevertheless it lacks true emotional energy, and it by no means “fairly manages to tug us into the musical’s mournful depths”.
Till 10 September at Theatre Royal Tub (01225-448844); theatreroyal.org.uk