Cannibal Witch and Tap Dancing Cockroach Entertained 2 out of 3 Reviewers

Susan Stanley-Carroll gets help reviewing Hansel & Gretel at the Chiswick Playhouse

Picture: @chiswickplay

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Chiswick Playhouse, Bath Road, Chiswick, W4 1LW

Running Time 1 hour 45 minutes, including a 20 minute interval
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Last Saturday the Chiswick Playhouse was buzzing as merrily as a hive of honey bees as
children between the ages of 6 and 10 flocked to see the enticing yet scary Hansel &
Gretel play.

The Brothers Grimm story, however, has had several changes: it is set in the foreseeable
future and the once flourishing forest is now a dead wood suffocated by the emissions
from the traffic on the motorway that curls around it. Comments on climate change seep,
perhaps rather randomly, from the curious script.

The set of dead silver birch trees is multi-purpose: it is Hansel & Gretel’s home and it is the infamous Gingerbread house with its huge oven and a child sized cage. We missed
seeing the exterior of a sweet and cake- encrusted Gingerbread House but real sweets
scattered on the window sills of the exit corridor surprised and thrilled the children as they exited from the auditorium.

tomi ogbaro actor

The star of the show is Tomi Ogbaro (pictured above).He plays two roles, the children’s sick father and the puppeteer for Tony the Cockroach. Ogbaro, wow, he gives life to that cockroach. My grandsons, Lachlan and Alexander thought he was a hoot and loved his songs (although I thought his first song was too long). He exudes warmth and lashings of bonhomie, making the whole concept of children as sustainable food a lot less gruesome. Pippa Conway and Joshua Oakes-Rogers play the siblings with conviction and the wicked-witch was played
by Serena Flyn; she delighted my fellow reviewers.

Although the show was billed as a musical, the songs lacked definition but my fellow
reviewers bounced along with the tunes. Having said this, we did all enjoy the moments
when the cast interacted with the audience asking them, ‘The name of their favourite
story?’ ‘What cake they enjoy eating the most? And so on. These moments increased the
involvement of everyone.

Out of the three of us Lachlan and Alexander enjoyed their visit, whereas, their
grandmother felt very differently and would have preferred to have taken the boys to a
movie! The saying, ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’, perhaps, perfectly fits for
this Christmas show.

And to be completely transparent, I also include the remarks of one mother who said: “Well
I enjoyed that, it was entertaining and a great break from a cold day”. Her 4 children
chorused, “Yes, thank you for taking us, Mum. It was so much fun!”.

Conclusion: always take a critic’s review with a pinch of salt, or ginger powder for that matter!

Susan Stanley-Carroll plus guest reviewers Lachlan and Alexander

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December 21, 2019

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