Tickets and more information: http://thecockpit.org.uk/show/into_the_woods
Running until: 24th June 2018
Production photos by: David Ovenden
My only experience with Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Into The Woods was through the Disney film. I remember it being so fantastical, I couldn’t quite get my head around how this musical would look on stage what with a talking birds, a giant in the sky and a massive beanstalk crushing people to death. And when I heard Tim McArthur’s modern dressed production was going to play the small Cockpit theatre, I wondered the same thing. But, I found the size of the theatre only made the show all that more intimate and even more of a thrilling experience to watch.
As soon as you enter the auditorium, you are greeted with Joana Dias’ brilliant set design. The show is performed in the round, so no matter where you sit, you are involved in the action. The entire floor is covered in wood chips and the smell alone is enough to really pull you in and make you feel like you are in the woods amongst the wooden set with these characters. It is a minimal and small set yet it doesn’t constantly feel overcrowded, I only felt this when all 17 cast members were on stage purely out of worry they were all going to bump into each other. But ultimately, I found the setting of the Woods to be a place where a person’s darkest secrets and fears live and, for me, that is the core connection between all of these characters. Even if they do range from a wolf preying on a young girl to a prince having an affair to a drug taking Rapunzel.
Not only does Tim McArthur direct the production but he also plays the Baker, who along with his wife are unable to have a child after his house was cursed by a witch. The production does have a 21st century twist, particularly strong through Stewart Charlesworth’s costumes, which I think makes the characters all that more relatable. The Baker and The Baker’s Wife uniforms are similar to a Gregg’s bakers, Little Red Riding Hood’s cape is a hoodie, the princes are in suits straight out of Topman and Jack and his mother are dressed as if they are fresh out of an episode of Shameless (cigarettes and beer cans in hand too). I felt the costumes really emphasised the class system in a more recognisable and familiar way, particularly to those in the UK.
Overall, I found this production of Into The Woods enjoyable with a modern twist that doesn’t take away from Stephen Sondheim’s gorgeous score. The wood chips may be hard to walk on, but it’s worth it for this fun and exciting show.
Until next time,