A Shiny Life For Me!

a personal review blog by Bianca

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel
23 December 2023
Globe Theatre
2.0 out of 5.0 stars

This one was a bit of a disaster. Hopes were quite high, judging the new play, based on Simon Armitage’s poem of the old fairytale, purely by the aesthetics of the poster. Showing a gingerbread version of the Globe, covered in dripping icing and dusted with powdered sugar, it looked moody and festive. It was billed as a children’s show, which can be a bit hit and miss, but I was not prepared for what transpired.

As the Globe is the theatre that it is, they do not use sound equipment and instead rely on the actors on stage speaking loudly enough for all to hear. Which is usually not a problem at all. However, having a theatre full of children and parents, this did not work out. The audience was so unabashedly loud throughout the entire performance, I did not hear a single thing the narrator spoke. The rest of the cast was a little louder and I could catch the occasional phrase or song fragment, but barely any of the spoken words made it to my ears.

What I can say about the show is that it was not the moody, cosy fairy tale I was expecting. Costumes were bright and gaudy and stage dressing was mostly made from camping tents? There was no beautiful gingerbread house, but a plastic shed in psychedelic colours that looked more like a preschool barfed up their craft corner than the gorgeous design on the poster. The entire story is used as a parable about modern refugees, which could have been a great modernisation of the story, but it just doesn’t work and is really confusing and meaningless in this setting. There is an extended rap scene that feels very awkward and badly done, the ending is really bizarre and the show did absolutely not engage the audience, neither children nor adults. But more than that, the behaviour of the audience really stood out as one of my worst theatre experiences, and I once attended a Rocky Horror Picture Show where several audience members were removed for their rowdy behaviour!

Now, I started off in the back row of the lowest gallery, which really isn’t very far from the stage. However, the parent next to me and their two children arrived with a full Tesco bag packed with snacks, and proceeded to open a new crinkly bag every few minutes while also chatting along throughout the entire first act. I asked if I could be seated elsewhere due to this, hoping I would get a spot with less noise this time round. The staff was kind enough to find me another spot closer to the stage and further away from my original seat, but this changed little. In this second spot I was kicked in the back several times by an older child behind me, while a parent on the other side of me had a full conversation with their friend, completely ignoring the show and other patrons.

I have noticed how audience behaviour has really gotten worse since lockdown, but this one absolutely takes the cake. In none of the hundreds of children’s shows I’ve frequented have I ever experienced something on this level of terrible behaviour. People pushing each other, several people repeatedly being told they and their children cannot stand on the stairs during the performance, parents repeatedly being told not to seat children on their shoulders as they are blocking everyone else’s view, children having full tantrums in the crowded courtyard likely due to overstimulation, patrons having brought entire day’s rations of snacks and munching throughout the full performance, and so much talking and screaming!

I feel so much sympathy for the stewards who were working these performances, I do not know how they do it.

So, unfortunately this one was a huge bust for me, and I unfortunately couldn’t recommend shows aimed at young children at the Globe theatre.

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