Hansel and Gretel (Cambridge, The Junction)
There’s a cast of five actor-musicians and a pair of excellent puppets. We’re deep in a forest, somewhere in middle Europe (the Czech republic, perhaps) and there’s a famine (as well as a credit crunch) raging. Clutching their alter-egos (which sometimes carry the action forward), the two children outwit first their wicked stepmother and weak father and then the witch who dwells in a gingerbread house. So far, so traditional.
Alex Byrne is the director of the interval-less show which has an effective set by Stephanie Mueller, littering the stage with everyday objects as well as some fantastical ones. Musical director Carly Davis makes the most of her scenes as the witch, fox-draped and oh so initially charming to her guests.
The other players are Mia Hawk (the stepmother), Unai Lopez de Armentia (Hansel), Rew Low (the father) and Mueller (Gretel), producing some memorable moments and an assortment of haunting sounds from an accordion, double-bass, guitar and ukelale – not to mention some much less conventional instruments.