The Arts Centre Hounslow (venue)
18 December 2020 (released)
19 December 2020
It is great to see that even with the enforced closure of the Theatre, The Arts Centre Hounslow have still gone ahead with live performances. These are streaming direct to homes on a pay what you can basis. Jonathan Ashby-Rock dressed as Prince Claus sets the 'Covid' scene in a witty and informative way, which then opens up into the show itself.
As writer, co-director and producer he has chosen to take the Red Riding Hood story and turn it into a show that is a delightful cross between Agatha Christie and Pantomime, and is packed with references to the Pandemic, Brexit and the Royal Family. This gives lots for the adults to pick up on, in what is a very much a musical play for children and not a more traditional pantomime. Considering there is no live audience for the usual audience participation, then this is probably a wise choice.
Red Riding Hood becomes a feisty detective played by Daniella Piper who lights up the stage when she is on. She has to save Granny and also solve the mystery of who let the Big Bad Wolf out of prison. Since out, he has already eaten most of the Royal Family but still has room for a more tender morsel. Red is aided and hindered by the expected characters of the Prince and Huntsman and the addition of the Three Little pigs, Stickles, Husk and Brickles, who provide a lot of the comedy dressed in lederhosen and with appropriate accents that add to their fun but unfortunately makes some of their dialogue hard to pick out.
What is difficult with Red Ring Hood is that it is a short story with very few characters. So, in making this into a full length show the story inevitably gets stretched. Even with the clever detective angle, and the mixing of stories, it feels too long to maintain the attention throughout. Especially when viewed on-line with no large audience re-action to any of the jokes or physical humour.
There is a nice filmed piece in the interval that will appeal to all ages, but tends to break up the momentum set at the end of Act 1. Act 2 set in Granny Hood's house, has much more of the physical humour, and the 'who is the real granny' misunderstanding which is great fun. However, that too felt over extended before Red Riding Hood comes on to solve the case.
Red Riding Hood is available to watch live streamed until Sunday 20 December, the show will then be available on demand until 31 December 2020.