Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

21/03/2018 - 25/03/2018

Production Details

Red Riding Hood is on her way to her grandma’s house….
The wolf gets there first, keen for a snack….
He knocks on Grandma’s door … he comes to her bedside … he opens his mouth…
What could possibly go wrong?

Fairytale meets feminism in this mythic comedy with bite!

From the team who produced the sell-out season of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Hannah Playhouse in 2017 comes this original and topical youth production. Written by award winning playwright Sarah Delahunty with music composed by young up and coming musicians.

1st Gear Productions specialises in shows performed by young people for audiences of all ages.

Hannah Playhouse
Wed March 21st – Sat March 24th at 8pm
Sunday March 25th at 6:30pm
Tickets $20/$14 –  

Theatre , Musical ,

Perfectly imperfect

Review by Maryanne Cathro 22nd Mar 2018

It is always a treat to see a show in the Hannah Playhouse. Such a deep, resonant space – and the source of 40 years of exciting theatre experiences for me.

So to see young people owning that big stage is a double thrill. Most of them are already in place as we walk in; in varying positions and attitudes among a set of autumn leaves, rostra and ghostly chalk trees on dark flats. It is eerie and fascinating and when the action begins we are already wanting to know more; we are drawn like Hansel and Gretel into the forest.

Eating the Wolf* is now a fairly famous play for young people – one that twists the story of Red Riding Hood into a different shape altogether. And for this latest production, there is music, also written by young people to Sarah Delahunty’s lyrics. It’s great stuff.  

It’s not what you expect at all from a musical and I really like that. The lyrics keep the music grounded in the story, allowing the melodies to go wherever they want to. Live accompaniment is well played and perfectly sound balanced for the space and singers. Musical director Justin Pearce runs a tight ship and the young musicians do an excellent job.

Back to the stage action: a threesome of tatty nightmares (Leilani Naufahu, Tui Christie and Julia Mattocks) share the narration like a Macbeth/Greek chorus mash up – do they too have a story? Red Riding Hood (Alice Rose) is obvious from the outset in her bright red cloak. Her Mother (Alexandra de Rooij) and Grandmother (Hana Brammer) each have a downstage corner.

We all know the story is going to get unhinged from the traditional – the name of the play tells us that. However it is not really until the Wolf (Samuel Randall) smooths his way onto the stage that we get a telling, “You don’t understand my pain.” His obnoxiously awesome song makes it clear that he represents far more than a hungry forest killer. 

The story takes RRH far into the forest, following her Grandmother who has had an epiphany on top of a big dinner, shall we say. Having thoroughly humiliated two Woodchoppers (Cole Hampton and Alex Ker) in the process. Together they discover the stories of the three Sisters Grimm and what really happens after the happily ever afters, making being a princess a lot less appealing in the process. 

Given this is a musical based upon Little Red Riding Hood that goes off on a tangent to do with love, longing and ambition, it is natural to want to draw a comparison with Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Honestly, I am a big Sondheim fan and love his music but I enjoy this show more. The storyline is fresh and unexpected and doesn’t try to tell the audience what to think. The music is just right for the various moods and dynamics of the story and characters.

The cast are not all great singers but they do a great job unamplified in a big space, and what any might lack in range and richness they make up for in acting chops. And the refreshing lack of a Witch character allows all the characters to own their dark and light sides, putting to us their credible and conflicting points of view.

I am quite moved by de Rooij’s moment on stage clutching a baby doll as if it were real and asking us why our own daily occupations are so much more essential than her own.

Sarah Delahunty is such a force in theatre for young people; her experience as a writer, director and designer all come together in this perfectly imperfect production. _______________________________

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.

 – – – – – – – – 
Here is John Smythe National Business Review critique of Sarah Delahunty’s original EATING THE WOLF, published 4 March 2005. 

Find of the Fringe so far is Eating the Wolf, written, directed and narrated by Sarah Delahunty, at the Red Brick Hall. Little Red Riding Hood embarks on a whole new journey once Grandma eats the wolf and decides to become prime minister and dominate the environment. The tale also offers alternative fates for folk tale damsels Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Rose Red.

Forty-odd years of feminist politics are neatly deconstructed. So, too, is the story of stories. The pendulum swings away from the woodcutter, whose axe is a metaphor for masculine power, then back from the man-hating extremities of feminism. Each radical change starts with someone questioning the status quo.

RRH’s ultimate quest to have it all is ingeniously set up as a test that will see her granted one wish if she solves the central dilemma. I presume her answer and the “happy ever after” outcome are calculated to provoke post-show debate.

By committing fully to the viewpoints of each character they play, Erin Shepherd, Eleanor Bishop, Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Heleyni Pratley and Jean Sergent elevate Delahunty’s deceptively simple script way above send-up.

Eating the Wolf is a must-see for anyone who has wrestled with gender-politics, be they axe or mop wielders, corporate or home executives. Given Downstage and Circa’s recent revivals of Caryl Churchill plays, I imagine they will now compete for the rights to give Eating the Wolf a full professional season. Indeed, like Churchill’s plays, it should play around the world. 


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