Not for those who like their fairy tales in Disneyesque sugar-coated packages, The Girl With The Iron Claws is a dark, brooding Nordic puppet-and-person version of Beauty and The Beast.
The Wrong Crowd’s debut piece is raw in tooth and claw with a grotesque troll queen, a cursed prince and a wild child princess ready for love and late night shenanigans.
Clare Fraenkel is the favourite daughter of an aging king (Arran Glass who also plays the blacksmith) who would sacrifice his two other daughters rather than lose her but the bear (Chris MacDonald) in the woods has a circle of gold which proves irresistible.
But, of course, the bear is not quite as it seems, the gold circlet has to be won and the troll queen has her bloodshot eyes on a handsome husband leading to a quest, babies and a savage fight to the death.
Scene-stealing Laura Cairns is convincing in multiple roles (Troll Queen, sister, crone and blacksmith’s wife), manipulating the puppet sister beautifully and is wonderfully repulsive as the troll intent on having Prince Valemon for herself.
The talented quartet each play several roles – either on stage or manipulating the iconic puppets – as the story unfolds under the tight direction of writer Hannah Mulder. All take their turn in weaving the spell with haunting songs, scary images, beguiling puppets and creative acting.
Not for the under 8s, it is may be the stuff of nightmares but is handled well and with great humour.