“Once upon a time”, a narrator (Jordan Michael Todd) introduces us to a modern take on Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods. The well known fairytale characters are brought together by the story and the quest of the childless Baker and his wife (Tim McArthur and Jo Wickham respectively).
The cast is homogeneous and makes for a pleasant and entertaining moment. However some performances stand out and tie the story together – Abigail Carter-Simpson (Cinderella) has the strongest voice, while Florence Odumosu’s funny, streetwise Little Red Riding Hood, Michele Moran’s Witch, and Madeline Macmahon’s portrayal of Jack’s Mother were also excellent. Jordan Michael Todd, the Narrator, is full of energy, very involved with what is happening around him and keeps the show going.
The first act is mostly about the fairy tales while act two explores what comes after the “happily ever after” and takes us on a journey where real life strikes: adultery, boredom with what should be an enchanting life, a coke snorting Rapunzel and death. Only few remaining survivors decide to rebuild together and, as the Baker starts to tell the story to his child, the Witch warns “Careful the things you say, Children will listen.”
All join in for the finale and conclude that we all must venture into the woods while remembering the choices we have made and learning from each experience.
The director, Tim McArthur, adaptation of the original story by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine with characters inspired by current shows such as Towie, Made in Chelsea and Jeremy Kyle definitely gives it an interesting twist and root it firmly into modern Britain. The set designs and lighting quite literally takes us into the woods and offers various possibility for the cast to play with.
Technically, there were a few glitches with sound and microphones but this doesn’t take away from an overall very enjoyable performance.
Into The Woods plays at The Cockpit until June 24th.