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Grimm Tales, an immersive theatre experience at Shoreditch Town Hall

Grimm Tales

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SOMETHING strange is brewing in the labyrinth beneath Shoreditch Town Hall.

A witch surrounded by golden hair blinds a prince. Seven beds are left unmade. An old woman and her granddaughter gasp for air as they clamber from the entrails of a wolf. A snake slithers toward a soldier buried alive in his wife’s tomb. A father unknowingly sucks flesh from the bones of his missing son…

Grimm Tales, the world debut of an extraordinary theatrical re-imagining of world renowned author Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old, will take place from March 14 to April 24, 2014, in one of London’s most vibrant areas.

This is the first time audience members will be able to physically interact with the series’ unforgettable characters and scenes within a visceral depiction.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, as familiar as the back of your hand, now you can experience them, touch them, feel and live them in.

Built in 1865, half a century after The Brothers Grimm recorded their infamous folklore, the darkened basement of Grade II landmark building Shoreditch Town Hall will play host to the living tableaux. Audiences will be led through its mutated corridors and rooms, encountering its inhabitants and undergoing a completely immersive journey through the surreal world of the fairy tale.

Shifting transiently between voyeur and adventurer, familiar stories will unfold mere inches from them before abruptly disbanding, leaving them alone to explore the richly enchanted world and discover hidden corners, secret paths and morsels of fragmented stories that force them to forget any reality dwelling outside.

Pullman said of the adaptation: “Nowadays we think of these wonderful tales as something from a book, but the great collection of the Brothers Grimm was published only two hundred years ago. The tales are much older than that, and they were originally told orally, not written down, so a dramatic production seems like a return to their origin. I’m sure the tales will flourish in this setting, and I greatly look forward to seeing how they come to life.”

The creative team responsible for bringing the tales to life includes Philip Wilson, Director and Adaptor of Grimm Tales, previously Artistic Director and joint Chief Executive at the Salisbury Playhouse and director of 2013 Edinburgh Fringe triumph Three Lions.

Wilson said: “This immersive production will translate the exuberant pace of the stories’ plots into raw action, just as vividly as Pullman and the Grimm Brothers did in turning spoken fairy tales into the prevailing page-turners of their time.”

Grimm Tales is produced by The Old Vic Tunnel’s Valerie Coward, who has 20 years of experience producing immersive theatre shows; and Cat Botibol, Creative Development Director for agency pd3, an award-winning creative outfit lauded for its work in culture marketing and bespoke branded experiences, is Executive Producer.

Transforming the venue and masterminding the folkloric aesthetic is set and costume designer Tom Rogers, whose recent credits include Moominland Winter (National Tour), Happy Days: A New Musical (National Tour) and My Judy Garland Life (Nottingham Playhouse).

Composer and sound designer Richard Hammarton, whose credits include Sizwe Banzi is Dead (Young Vic) and Fault Lines (Hampstead Theatre); and lighting designer Howard Hudson, whose credits include La Cage Aux Folles (Aarhus, Denmark), Cornelius (59E59, New York) and Titanic (Southwark Playhouse), will orchestrate the vivid and illusory atmosphere of Grimm Tales.

Grimm Tales is suitable for adults and their brave children ages 8 and up. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets: Adults: from £35; children under 16, from £19:50. Tickets can be purchased directly from www.grimm-tales.co.uk or www.shoreditchtownhall.com. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased from Theatre People at www.theatrepeople.com or on +44 (0)20 7400 1234.

Times

March 14 to April 6

Tuesday to Wednesday at 7.30pm.
Thursday and Friday at 5.30pm and 8.15pm.
Saturday at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.
Sunday at 2pm and 5pm.

April 8 to April 19

Tuesday at 7.30pm (and 3:30pm on April 15 only).
Wednesday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.
Thursday and Friday at 5.30pm and 8.15pm.
Saturday at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.
Sunday at 2pm and 5pm.

April 21 to April 24

Monday at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.
Tuesday and Wednesday at 7.30pm.
Thursday at 5.30pm and 8.15pm.

Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT