Review: Nothing ‘Grimm’ about Playhouse Halloween hit

Peter E Davidson as Grimm.
Peter E Davidson as Grimm.

There’s no doubt Derry folk were spoiled for choice this year when it came to ways to keep our children entertained over the Halloween break.

And one of the highlights was, undoubtedly, Grimm Tales for Kids - a home spun show which returned for its second year at Derry’s Playhouse.

The only thing that can beat well scripted comedy, is a perfectly timed ad-lib from a seven year old.

Taking the fairy tales of the Brother’s Grimm as its inspiration - this show puts a whole new spin on some of the best loved stories of our childhood.

But where Grimm Tales really worked is that it had enough in its 90 minute long outing to keep both the grown ups and even the most rambunctious of children entertained.

Written and performed by local writer/ actor Peter E Davidson - Grimm is set in a wolf’s lair in Galliagh. Grimm (first name Lesley), tells the audience he was abandoned by his parents as an infant in Lidl- and was taken in and raised by a family of kindly wolves.

When he was found (near the sweet aisle) he had one item in his possession - a book of Grimm’s Tales - and from then he developed a love of books and story telling and would often tell his lupine brethern long stories to their delight.

Fast forward a number of years, and Grimm wants to share his stories with the kids of Derry.

With the exception of two monsterly minions who help out every now and again. the show is a one man performance. And Davidson, as Grimm, retells the stores of Little Red Riding Hood, The Frog Prince and Rumpelstiltskin using a variety of props, accents, songs, water guns and a dog called Simon.

It is an irreverent telling of the tales. Little Red Riding Hood is a girl with the most annoying voice in the world. The Big Bad Wolf (“A PR nightmare for Grimm and his brothers”) is a canny Glaswegian. The princess in The Frog Prince is a selfie loving stroppy teen and as for Rumpelstiltskin? He likes a bit of Dolly Parton.

Audience interaction was welcome - and in fact encouraged. The only thing that can beat well scripted comedy, is a perfectly timed ad-lib from a seven year old.

Davidson inhabited the high energy character of Grimm brilliantly - and this is a character which has the potential to become a children’s favourite - not just in Derry but further afield.

His writing and comedic touches were spot on - and as a parent, having endured a number of high priced national children’s tours - this easily stood out about the very best of them.

From the whoops of laughter, the standing ovations and the talk in the foyer afterwards it was clear I was not alone in my thinking.

Great praised must once again be given to the team at the Playhouse - the staging, sound and lighting made this show come to life, and the innovative direction of Kieran Griffiths made this show the whole package in terms of family entertainment.

We laughed. We got soaked with water guns. The children got sweets to take home. The theatre was full and the feel good factor was on full throttle.

It’s worth noting that while the 2014 run of Grimm was cut short due to the tragic passing of Lenny Nelson, the Playhouse’s Theatre Technician last year, his presence was acknowledged both in the script (with the character of King Lenny) and with applause just for him. It was a nice and moving touch that added warmth to an already wonderful family event.

Family tickets for Grimm were priced at a competitive £20 for a family of four - and with the children getting to pick a treat from the bath of sweets at the end, I doubt you would find better value anywhere else in town.

This reporter, and her family, are very much looking forward to 2016 - and the return of Grimm and his funny, funky, fabulous tales.