Monday, 15 December 2014

Grimm Tales - Immersive Fairy Tales for Young and Old

A group of us from Year 3 Costume at London College of Fashion went to see the newly opened adaptation of Philip Pullman's dark fairy tales at the Oxo Tower Bargehouse.

Directed and adapted for the performance space by Philip Wilson, this was a really unique and intriguing theatre experience, a completely unique way of storytelling that I had not experienced before. As the audience you aren't just seeing, but really experiencing, these stories. From the moment you enter the building, the sets and characters swallow you into their dark and mysterious world!

Over the course of two and a half hours you will experience 5 of the 6 tales. I missed out on Faithful Johannes, but the wonder of the ones I did see mean I didn't feel short changed! On the contrary, wandering around the sets after the performances have finished, you feel the mystery even more on finding the remnants of a story you haven't seen. You wonder, what happened here while I was upstairs? Where is this red cloak from? And who sleeps in these seven short beds?

I was fascinated by the creativity in the design by Tom Rogers. The 360° sets totally engage you in the performance, from the moment you step foot onto the rubbery forest floor or see the magical lighting in the trees reaching up above your head.

I was really inspired for my own Final Major Project, also a live performance where the audience follows the characters. I've been exploring how I can create a costume that transforms over the course of the story, perhaps through layers. The costumes here gave me plenty of tips to try out myself. There is such an array of costumes and characters in these short tales. Of course there is a bounty of beautiful princess dresses: gowns as shiny as stars, or made of a thousand different types of furs, but equally charming are the costumes of the poorer characters. The use of 'found' objects turned into props was charming and surprisingly believable - this was down to the incredible attention to detail. By using vintage objects as well as modern ones, like a fan adapted into a bird or my favourite, the red thread spools as strawberries, there is an air of childish otherworldliness - which compliments perfectly the subject matter. The fairy-tales we grew up with are twisted into something much more mysterious, dark and unnerving, just as they were intended to be when they were originally told as oral legends.

Grimm Tales is on at the Bargehouse on London's Southbank and booking is available until Feb 15th. This is a wonderful experience for people of all ages, not matter if you are a fan of traditional theatre or not! www.grimm-tales.co.uk

Performance photos by Tom Medwell.