CUPPERS: The Long Forgotten Fairytale (Worcester)

Tue 8th November 2011


Yara Rodrigues Fowler

at 15:30 on 9th Nov 2011



Put together by just four freshers, Worcester’s 'A Long Forgotten Fairytale' is a thoroughly ambitious and impressive effort. In half an hour it reenacts, with three alternate endings, the story of Little Red Riding Hood, as rearranged and interrupted by its modern and tortured writer (think tight black polo and crazy eyes). There are only so many ways in which a fairytale can be retold - certainly the three endings of ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ offer nothing new - and so the character of writer is delightfully original. Who has ever imagined the writer of fables sitting at her desk, head tilted, pen in mouth, soliloquising on madness? Who imagined her, adjectives slipping gratuitously, throwing herself on the floor and glaring and pouting at the audience, looking more than slightly sexy? In all honesty - who imagined her at all?

Tribute should be paid here not just to the actor playing the writer, but to the writing itself, adapted from works by Roald Dahl and Angela Carter, which produced not only a delicious dynamic between the two other characters, Wolf and Red, and the writer (‘you’re absolutely undermining my authority’, she exclaims at one point) but some descriptive lines far less cliche than anything written by an eighteen-year-old, and including so much alliteration, has any right to be. In fact, their better metaphors were outlandish and cheeky in a way reminiscent of Rowan Atkinson’s character in Blackadder - comic and full of literary superfluity with a healthy dose of self-parody.

Their writing however was not without fault. Whilst the piece inevitably raised sophisticated questions concerning the relationship between author, characters and plot, it did not conclusively answer, or even address them. Here the performance (specifically the second half), direction and content fell disappointingly short of its potential, which could have included more brazen conflict between character and creator. It was impossible but to feel that the focus on ‘innocence versus danger’ was a cop-out: a return to the worn-out theme so over-explored by Twilight and co. Far more interesting would have been an extension of the dialogue between author, Red and Wolf, in which the question of creative chicken and egg might have been retouched upon.

On a more general note, musically and technically this cupper was extremely well-managed, with no glaring errors and an engaging beginning featuring eery music and an intricate overlapping of voices reading from different fairytales. Its minimal use of props was effective, and the costumes were striking.

'A Long Forgotten Fairytale' was a well-performed, well-directed and well-put together piece - albeit flawed. It will stand out from other cuppers not for having been perfectly executed, but for being imperfectly ambitious.


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