Enchanting fairy tale production at Canal Walk

Enchanting fairy tale production at Canal Walk

SHOW: The Little Mermaid

‘The Little Mermaid’ is one of those hard etched fairy tales that can really leave an indelible impression on a kid. The original story by Hans Christian Andersen features delightfully macabre details like the mermaid finding the experience of walking on her lovely new legs akin to striding around on sharp swords, and romantically devastated heroines dissolving into sea foam. Of course kids these days are more familiar with the redacted Disney version of HCA’s original story, which is a pity really; I think the guardians of children’s purity underestimate the ability of the young ones to absorb the harrower details in these tales, which often derive their charge from their unabashed cruelty. After all, life isn’t always pretty and kids know this.

Director Fred Abrahamse and designer and composer Marcel Meyer have leaned more towards the Disney version in their adaptation of ‘The Little Mermaid’; one certainly wouldn’t be wrong in calling it safe. That said, they have not skimped on production values and it is obvious, as it was last year with their production of ‘Hansel & Gretel’, that they value the patronage of their target audience immensely.

I can only imagine what an enchantment this show must be if you are a young audience member. Full of imagination and invention and bristling with life, it takes hold of one and keeps that steady grip for almost the entire show. As mentioned before, the adaptation does lack a little edge and the ending is also rather abrupt, but these are really minor squabbles. Overwhelmingly ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a heck of a lot of fun and will brighten even the glummest day.

I was particularly impressed with the set design, which verges on ingenious and the costumes are wonderfully detailed and lush. All of this attention to detail really does transport one to a fairy tale reality. Abrahamse and Meyer deserve kudos for not skimping on the look and feel of the visuals. The cast too clearly comprehends the importance of leaving a lasting impression on the young ones; they are, after all, the prospective theatre audiences of tomorrow. I was particularly enamoured with the exuberance of Earl Gregory as the Crab and the Eel.
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DIRECTOR: Fred Abrahamse
CAST: Jenny Stead, Stephen Jubber, Earl Gregory, Candice van Litesenborgh, Niall Griffin
VENUE: Canal Walk Theatre until July 15
REVIEW: Peter Tromp