True to the blurb on the Toronto Fringe 2015 website, Hansel & Gretel by Cow Over Moon Children’s Theatre is a completely modern twist on a classic fairy tale. In this version of the tale, Hansel and Gretel (as well as their parents) spend too much time with their gadgets and too little time with each other. They, like most of us, have forgotten to appreciate the small things in life, immersed as they are in the world of technology and social media.
Things change when their Dad sends them a game request for The Amazing Hunger Race. The twins get magically sucked into the game, and need to use their intuition, common sense and teamwork to get back home. Unlike the fairy tale, the protagonists’ journey to the Gingerbread House in this repurposed rendering is an adventure, not an ordeal.
The performance was fun, interactive and playful from beginning to end. The two main characters had to solve a series of puzzles and riddles in order to exit the game. For this, they needed loads of help from the audience. The audience (made up mostly of kids and their parents) gladly obliged.
For me, the crowning moments of the performance were provided by the energetic, enthusiastic kids in the audience who jumped (quite literally) at the opportunity of helping the two protagonists trapped in the game. They were completely absorbed in the show, and shouted out answers even when no questions were asked.
Gene Abella, Faisal Butt, Michelle Thibodeau and Genevieve Trottier, who played the four main roles in the play, took the involvement sportingly at all times. At certain moments, they even left their dialogues midway to respond to a comment or question put forth by a kid in the audience.
They were all lively, cheerful and filled with the positive energy vital to a performance designed for kids. Furthermore, each of their voices had a lovely ring to it, which made the show’s songs and dialogues particularly pleasing to the ears.
The performers were well-supported by the creative team that made excellent use of stage technology, especially when Hansel and Gretel entered and exited the game. The sound and lighting effectively transformed the space of the stage into a fairyland-of-sorts at several points. The colourful costume and the imaginative props were cherries on a rather delicious cake.
The message of this modern-day Hansel & Gretel was fairly simple, and the performance was successful in driving the point home without seeming didactic. It kept the children entertained throughout, and had witty jokes for the parents as well.
Join Hansel & Gretel at the George Ignatieff Theatre and help them find their way out of The Amazing Hunger Race. Savour the perky songs and animated dances as you help the duo find answers to all their questions.
- Hansel & Gretel is playing until July 12 at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- This performance is not accessible for non-English speakers.
- This production is best suited for kids between ages 4 and 8.
- July 04 at 11:00 AM
- July 06 at 12:45 PM
- July 07 at 06:30 PM
- July 09 at 01:30 PM
- July 10 at 04:45 PM
- July 12 at 02:30 PM
Cow Over Moon Logo Provided by Cow Over Moon Children’s Theatre