4-Star Review for Hansel & Gretel in The Guardian


Above: Hansel & Gretel, with Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort. Puppet design by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Photographed for The Guardian by Spencer McPherson/Still Moving Media

Hansel & Gretel premiered at the Cheltenham Music Festival to a packed auditorium in the beautiful theatre of the Parabola Arts Centre on Saturday. Rian Evans gave the production a 4-star review in The Guardian.

Read it HERE.

Music by Matthew Kaner

Poetry by Simon Armitage

Direction and Design Supervision by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Dramaturgy by Caroline Clegg

Produced by Kate Romano for Goldfield Productions

Narrator/Singer, Adey Grummet

Puppeteers, Di Ford and Lizzie Wort

Music performed by the Goldfield Ensemble

Puppets made by Jan Zalud

Puppet wardrobe supervision by Oonagh Creighton-Griffiths

Models and collages by Phil Cooper

Paper-cuts by Peter Lloyd

Animation by Clive Hicks-Jenkins assisted by Phil Cooper

Model and Animation Camera, Pete Telfer of Culture Colony

Vision Mixer and Production Cameraman, Jon Street of The Moth Factory

Lighting Design by David Abra

Listings information: touring dates 2018

  • Cheltenham Festival WORLD PREMIERE 7th July
  • Lichfield Festival ‘book at bedtime’, Lichfield Guildhall 13th July
  • Lichfield Festival matinee, Garrick Theatre 14th July
  • Three Choirs Festival, Tomkins Theatre 29th July
  • Oxford Contemporary Music, St Barnabas Church 14th September
  • Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York 3rd October
  • Barbican Milton Court Concert Hall LONDON PREMIERE 12th October
  • Canterbury Festival, Colyer-Fergusson Concert Hall 21st October
  • Bath Spa University, Michael Tippett Centre 24th October
  • Letchworth, Broadway Theatre 4th November


14 thoughts on “4-Star Review for Hansel & Gretel in The Guardian

  1. Clive, I am delighted to read that the premiere went so well on Saturday. Congratulations to you and the ‘Hansel & Gretel’ team!

    I once compared you to Derek Jarman, in a post I wrote at the Artlog, in the build-up to your ‘Dark Movements’ exhibition in 2015. I am reminded of Derek Jarman, once again, by The Guardian review. Working with limited resources from the late 1970s to early 1990s, Jarman developed a unique cinematographic practice that turned those budgetary restraints into a signature aesthetic – what he conceived as ‘a cinema of small gestures’. Speaking of ‘Caravaggio’, Jarman said, ‘Behind each detail of that film lies another reality’. It would appear, from the glowing review in The Guardian, that you – and the ‘Hansel & Gretel’ team – have achieved a similar feat on the stage, which I am sure has been no easy task to pull off. To borrow from Peter Ackroyd, I would suggest that this production is proof positive that our native imagination flourishes in confined spaces. Bravo!

    • Thank you, Sarah.

      Derek! My hero. Next to him I’m very small fry indeed. But I thank you for the honour of placing me in such good company.

      I won’t pretend that it was a stroll in the park. Any endeavour to produce a new work and then stage it for a national tour, whether on a large scale or a modest one, takes a team of creatives and a huge amount of energy and fortitude to pull off. The theatre, once my familiar realm of activity, is not where I practice these days, and I had to get myself back and acclimatised to all the things that go with the territory. There have certainly been times since the funding came in and we were able to begin work in earnest, when I’ve recalled with a sinking heart some of the many reasons why I’d left that world behind me. But once the whole piled-high caravan is off and away and trundling forward, the pace/pressure to the finishing-line is relentless, and there’s no stopping until you get there.

      But now the premiere has been given and the tour is on. The production has a life of its own, sustained by the new work itself – music, words and images fused together into a whole – and supported by the performers and technicians who breathe life into it on the stage.

      When the going was at its toughest and I was wishing I were back at Ty Isaf and in my studio – I reminded myself this was the third chapter in a creative arc that began with the Random Spectacular picture book, continued with the Benjamin Pollock’s Hansel & Gretel Toy Theatre and would shortly lead into chapter four, which is the task to bring Simon’s beautiful libretto into illustrated form with Joe Pearson at Design for Today. Beyond that, is there a chapter five? Ha ha! Watch this space.

        • A ghost story, designed to terrify and perplex, has long been strongly identified with cosy winter nights by the fireside in this country, so I’m voting for chapter 5 to be a short animated film on the BBC at Christmas. It’s time for M. R. James to be given some competition don’t you think?!

          • With a live Introduction by Clive in a cravat and smoking jacket delivering a warning to viewers of a nervous disposition in a Vincent Price-y manner?

            • As always, I love the way your mind works Peter! I think Clive might have some serious competition from Simon Armitage to take on this role though!!

              I really do hope that there is a commissioning editor out there, who has the vision to make this ‘darkly glittering Hansel & Gretel for the 21st century’ into an animation short. I can already picture myself watching such a film at Christmas, curled up in my favourite armchair.

              We have more ghost stories than any other country in the world, with a tradition associating them with winter, dating back to the early 17th century. In Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’, written in 1611, Mamillius says: “A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one / of sprites and goblins.” The secret lure of ghost stories and of fairy tales – and of the horrifying creatures we call into being in them – is that, while the stories themselves are fictions, the underlying dangers they conjure up, and the thrill that we feel in confronting them, are in the end quite real. What better fare could we ask for on some future winter’s night than “a helter-skelter journey through ghostly horizons and feasts of sweetness.…”? I am keeping my fingers crossed that the BBC is reading this!!!

  2. MAZEL TOV!!
    Also…you see, ‘nothing is ever wasted!’ The old skills blending with – I can’t say new, since from my memory they were always there.
    Love as ever and always
    B xxx

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