The Wild Bride is a Blues musical, a stylised dance, a puppet show, a slapstick comedy, and a Brother’s Grimm Tale. It is light-hearted and humorous, yet, it is tragic and deeply sombre. This may all seem incompatible, but it is these opposing forces working together with relentless energy and movement, that make this latest work from Kneehigh a true delight.
The audience is greeted by a rustic, natural setting, and the play remains rooted in this earthiness as the characters move through a story of forests, fire, blood, mud, dust and ice. The players’ interaction with their set and props is refreshingly creative. Indeed, the dexterity of the actors as they change from one character to the next and from instrument to instrument is hugely impressive. Stu Barker’s score borrows from the provincial American South and is the perfect accompaniment to this rural folk tale.
Following the intriguingly voiceless and nameless protagonist through the three stages of her life, beginning with her accidental sale to the devil by her father, to her social exclusion and heartbreak, and on to her physical and emotional regeneration is a moving experience, and the raw primal choreography at the climax cannot help but leave its mark on the viewer. The Wild Bride is nothing short of beautifully bizarre.