Grimm Tales at The OXO Tower
Some stories are just forever fascinating. The yarns from the mouths of the Brothers Grimm are such, constantly being retold, rejuvenated and reimagined. The version currently playing at The Bargehouse under the direction of Philip Wilson combines and stunning design and great ensemble work all dancing round the strong core of excellent storytelling.
The Bargehouse (part of the OXO Tower Complex),has been transformed into a majestically macabre immersive theatre experience. Audiences are directed through the space, up and down stairs, down meandering corridors, in and out of the most beautifully dressed rooms I’ve ever seen for a totally different storytelling adventure from the pen of Phillip Pullman.
Whilst picking up our tickets, we had a little gasp at the piano which suddenly started playing itself and the gorgeous foyer which provides a taster for the atmosphere that your senses are about to be bombarded by.
We wandered through to the first bar area, past walls that are packed with old, creepy Victorian photographs and supped a pomegranate gin and tonic whilst admiring the decor- stacks of old rickety chairs tower over you, and every available surface is covered in furs and red cloaks, whilst a spinning wheel magically spins gold in the corner. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON HOW BEAUTIFUL THE LIGHTING IS.
Appetites duly whetted, we were ushered into the first performance space to hear the first of the five tales we’d be treated to that evening. A small company of actors work excellently as a strong ensemble to deliver these tales with spirit, gusto and energy. Despite lacking a streak of humour that would’ve been very welcome, I LOVED the unashamed narration, the pacy, punchy delivery and the inventive use of props, puppets and costume. Every tale was a sheer delight. Sometimes I get frustrated with theatre when it tries to be too clever and the story gets lost amidst artistic gubbins. I sit there just thinking, YEAH BUT JUST TELL ME THE STORY BRO!
The cast are all excellent, but to be honest, the real stars of the show are Tom Rodgers’ s set and costume design and Howard Hudson’s lighting design. Both are just breathtakingly beeeeeeaaaauutttiffffullll. After the show is finished, the audience are invited and encouraged to wander around the spaces, and are free to snap pictures (and inevitably Instagram the shit out of everything) and soak up the atmosphere. Though there are only five stories actually told by the cast, the space provides hints, nods and clues to so many more, including a bar where the seating comprises of seven little beds, a magic mirror that suddenly comes to life, and a golden slipper on display. We had a thorough rummage around the space- I don’t want to tell you everything because part of the joy is in the discovery, but here’s some of my favourite snaps:
We left feeling dazed, breathless and punched around the eyeballs with beauty, magic and irresistibly eerie delights (in a good way.) If you’re a lover of these dark and dastardly fairytales, and are a little bit bored of ‘Frozen’ then DEFINITELY head down to the OXO tower for a fiendishly fabulous fairytale experience- there’s nothing else like it around. It makes Into the Woods look positively PG in comparison.
Grimm Tales runs at The Bargehouse at the OXO Tower until April 11th.
For tickets and more information, visit the website here.
We were guests of the Grimm Tales team, but as always, if I hadn’t loved the arse off it, I wouldn’t have written about it!