The forest is alive and Red’s grandmother is reinvented as an arms dealer, selling food and weapons to both sides in the war that has taken over the forest in this adaptation of the classic Red Riding Hood story, Red and the Wolf. It was devised by Prospero Theatre, an inclusive theatre company, comprised of performers and technicians with a range of theatre experience, about half of whom are disabled.
It’s a story about the lengths people will go to to survive, and the depths of savagery they will sink to in times of conflict. The turmoil of war is brought to the fore of the production. Every so often, a scene will explode into chaos, as soldiers rush on and begin shouting and shooting. The horrors of warfare are portrayed unflinchingly, especially the specific dangers posed to women living in the conflict zone, which some viewers may find disturbing.
There is some real talent in the cast, and some particularly fine physical acting. The actors playing the creepy, zombie-like voices of the forest are especially effective in adding to the sinister mood. In general, Red and the Wolf does a fine job of creating an atmospheric piece, aided by the original score by David Rowan.
It is somewhat difficult to follow the plot, since flashbacks and dream sequences – of which there appear to be several – are not clearly delineated from action in the present. It might help to simplify the lighting design to just one colour for each type of scene. The script is usually simple and poetic, but in places it becomes overly verbose, making it sound like an undergraduate essay desperately trying to meet the minimum word count without really having enough to say.
It’s clear that Prospero Theatre have a lot of talent to work with, and Red and the Wolf is a good start for their fringe debut. No doubt we will see many exciting things to come from them in future.