Review: Hansel and Gretel at Norwich Puppet Theatre

Horse and Bamboo production of Hansel and Gretel at The Norwich Puppet Theatre. Puppeteer Mark Whita

Horse and Bamboo production of Hansel and Gretel at The Norwich Puppet Theatre. Puppeteer Mark Whitaker with Hansel, Gretel and audience member Emilia Tallat, 6.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Of all the children's fairy tales collected by the Grimm brothers, Hansel & Gretel has always struck me as the least horrifying. Yes, I suppose the witch goes in the oven, and of course there are scary things in the woods. But the story is chiefly memorable for its ginger bread house and the children's bravery in saving their poverty stricken parents.

Horse and Bamboo production of Hansel and Gretel at The Norwich Puppet Theatre. Puppeteer Aya Nakamu

Horse and Bamboo production of Hansel and Gretel at The Norwich Puppet Theatre. Puppeteer Aya Nakamura with one of the puppets.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Horse + Bamboo Theatre has come up with a beautiful piece of puppetry based on the old tale. I can't imagine that you will see anything more enchanting this season than the badgers, deer and rabbits so wonderfully brought to life as the children set out on their journey.

However, the witches, bad dreams and predatory creatures that lurk in the shadows of the book are vivid as daylight here. Various ingenious devices make them more terrifying than ever before, as they are exquisitely drawn and projected each side of the elaborate booth, or pop out at you in lurid clarity from behind closed windows.

Some might find this all too scary, but if your family likes a good fright, then it's the Christmas treat for you – it really is bewitching.

Eve Stebbing

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