We have been to see a show by the Story Pocket Theatre before. We saw Arabian Nights last year, and it was a delight, and we were really looking forward to seeing another show by the same company. On top of that, it was an excuse to step inside the Canada Water Culture Space, a performance space with an interesting building by the dock at Canada Water, which is managed by the the Albany and which shares premises with the Canada Water library.
Our first encounter was excellent. The café. If you saw my post last week, you will practically be buying tickets for a show (any show!) already. The rainbow layered cake put us all in a great mood before we had even queued up to enter the auditorium.
Once inside, we noticed that some (silent) action was taking place already. When the play A Pocketful of Grimms began for real we learnt that the main narrator was the Storyteller, who would lead us through a series of fairy stories which we would partly recognise, and partly not know at all. They were all originally written by the German authors the Brothers Grimm in the early nineteenth century, and they are closer to the original stories than some of the ‘disneyfied’ versions that we are more familiar with. The real Grimm stories are great, many of them are quite dark, fantastical, sad and quite surreal.
I like the fact that the stories merged into one another, the way stories do in real life, and that there is a moral background behind many of them. For instance, in The Golden Goose, we heard about the man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was named ‘Dummling’ (‘Simpleton’). He is not clever and he is mocked by his family, but he is good and kind and for this he is rewarded with a golden goose by a magical man he meets in the woods. It is a funny scene when the characters choose children from the audience to follow in the trail of the golden goose, each of them in descending height order becoming stuck to the golden goose each time they greedily try to pick a golden feather from the goose’s back. As they enter the kingdom where the King lives with a daughter who has never laughed, the funny sight makes her laugh for the first time in many years, which gains Dummling the beautiful princess’s hand in marriage.
We also heard all about Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin; both the beast and Rumpelstiltskin are ingenious puppets. Beauty and the Beast is told as a romantic love story between Lily and the beast, who is in this version a lion. A dove flies around the stage to show the passage of time of seven years, and at this point the cast’s singing voices are beautiful as they accompany the music (original music by George Jennings). I’ve always been afraid of the little man with the big name, who can spin straw into gold, but Rumpelstiltskin is such a great story and we rejoice along with the miller’s daughter when he lets slip his real name. Our absolute favourite, though, was one we didn’t previously know, and I’m guessing that most people didn’t either. The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage is a comic tale with a real sting at the end. I won’t spoil it for you of course, but I have learnt that you should never send a sausage out to get the firewood.
The four actors are all excellent, as are the sets and music. There is nothing to fault here, there is just a room of happy children and their adults. I bet a fair few adults left the show to go and search their homes for old copies of Grimm fairy tales. Keep an eye out for Story Pocket Theatre – if they are touring near you, they come highly recommended. And for anyone local to Canada Water Culture Space? There is more than one good reason to drop in.