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Review: Into the Woods

Sitting down to the tales known from childhood on a cold, winter’s evening was just what was needed on a miserable midweek evening. And Pick Me Up Theatre’s telling of Sondheim’s Into the Woods delivered that with simple style and pleasure.

Having being properly introduced to Sondheim only within the last year, I am somewhat a late comer when it comes to the hype over Into the Woods. But being able to finally piece together the fantastic score  through witnessing the stage production, I was thrown by the intensity and vision of the story. For those who are unaware of the set up, the musical intertwines several of the Grimm Fairy Tales, following the protagonists as they make their way through the woods to encounter the consequences of their wishes.

The strength in Pick Me Up’s version lies within the casting choices. Kirsten Moore’s Cinderella is beautifully tragic; she carries ‘No One is Alone’ very carefully, in a way that does not trap the audition emotionally. But the stars of the show are most certainly Simon Radford and Darren Lumby, who play the manipulative princes. I would like to see anyone dismiss the thought that ‘Agony’ is by far the best performance in this particular version.

What let this performance down slightly are several creative choices made with voice and character definition. The magic of the lyrics is what brings the characters to life – I was unsure as to why the director chose to bring major focus to other elements when they were slightly unnecessary.

On the whole, this was a charming retelling of what is an accessible piece of theatre. Whilst it tried to reach for emotional heights but failed to do so, you can appreciate that it does try. If you need a reason to go to see this, go to see the music live on stage and to experience a near-perfect comedy duo. For me, those are two very acceptable reasons not to miss this performance.

Last showing for Into the Woods at the Opera House is tomorrow night.