Hansel & Gretel at Barbican


After a beautifully projected and nuanced performance of Hansel & Gretel at the Jack Lyons Concert Hall in York last week, the company move on to the exciting event of the London Premiere at Barbican tomorrow evening. (October12th)

The Milton Court Concert Hall, Barbican, is the largest of the tour venues, and it’s there that the performance is to be recorded by BBC Radio 3 for later broadcast. This new version of Hansel & Gretel, with a libretto by Simon Armitage and composed by Matthew Kaner, has been two years in the planning and making, and tomorrow many of the creatives who brought it to life will be present in the audience to celebrate the achievement. Congratulations to all, but particularly to Producer Kate Romano, who under the umbrella of her Goldfield Productions made it all happen.

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Above: Lizzie Wort and Di Ford, our incomparable puppeteers on the production. The puppet maker was Jan Zalud with puppet wardrobe created by Oonagh Creighton Griffiths.


7 thoughts on “Hansel & Gretel at Barbican

  1. Clive, as you already know, I was fortunate enough to see last week’s show in York and I couldn’t agree with you more about it being a beautifully nuanced perfomance. I have been greatly looking forward to seeing how Simon Armitage would re-imagine this famous fairy tale. I’m pleased to tell you that I wasn’t disappointed, as listening to Simon’s words, spoken by the enchanting Adey Grummet, it was obvious that we were witnessing an accomplished storyteller at work, and all involved in the production responded artfully and sensitively to his 21st century telling of the tale.

    Rian Evans, The Guardian critic, who reviewed the premiere in Cheltenham, wrote about how this production of ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is made up of a series of simple, yet profound, small gestures. If you think about it, these small gestures really shouldn’t work on stage, which is more often about everything being larger than life, but it is the attention paid to every nuance of this pared down production, which makes for such an affecting piece of theatre. For example, in your talk, after last week’s performance, you spoke about how you like the puppeteers to be seen by the audience and I can totally understand why, as this is one of the things that makes the show so touchingly intimate for me. You described Lizzie Wort and Di Ford as angels watching over the children and, seeing the puppeteers work their magic in York, it did feel like the audience was also included in the embrace of these guardian spirits, who were inviting us to act as witnesses to Hansel and Gretel’s perilous journey into the woods.

    The inspired decision to use toys, as the major theme of the production design, also signposts that we are entering a place that we are seeing wholly through the eyes and imaginations of the two children. This was emphasised further for me by the children’s parents and the witch existing only in two dimensions, as shadow puppets projected on a screen; the world of adult menace lurks in the darkness, waiting to be confronted and hopefully overcome, and what was once the safe haven of home for Hansel and Gretel, imagined as war refugees by Armitage, is always just out of reach. There’s a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, which sums up for me how the symbols of childhood have been used so simply, yet imaginatively, to communicate the much deeper and more complex realities which exist at the heart of this production, “Creativity is all about play, but play with the seriousness of playing children”.

    My congratulations go to you all and I am sending my very best wishes for tonight’s London premiere. Enjoy your evening!

    • ¡ Wow ! This is the kind of review that makes one feel as being there . I wish there were more critics like you, Sarah, because critics, of books and films too, usually speak about things that mean nothing to us ignorants the world over , and they don’t help us to see what we would miss by missing what they talk about.
      And now, I just can’t wait for the BBC release the world over.

      Thank You so much for this !
      Love from Madrid

      • Maria, thank you so much for your kind – and much too generous! – words of praise. The good news is that Clive has announced that Friday’s Barbican performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 22 December, so you will be able to experience the magic for yourself then, as most BBC radio programmes are available to listen to worldwide on the online BBC iPlayer. Sending love from Yorkshire, Sarah. xxx

  2. ¡ Enhorabuena !
    Wish I were there !!!
    Let us hope the BBC broadcast comes to Spain. Or, even better, that they make a BluRay of it all, with interviews, the “making of ” and all the rest of it, so that we, those who live too far, or are too old to travel, can watch it all. Again and again.

    Love from Madrid

    • Hi Maria. I’m on the train heading for London. Travel chaos, alas, caused by line closures because of predicted storms. They haven’t happened yet, but we still had to be herded into a double-deck coach to be driven halfway round Wales to avoid what might have happened had there been a storm! Hey ho!!! Luckily I started out early. Barbican here I come!

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