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A Pocket Full of Grimms

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BROADWAY BABY **** by Sarah Virgo on 7th August 2016

Do you remember the warmth and magic you felt being told stories before bed as a kid? That elation you feel when you're totally engrossed in a book? A Pocketful of Grimms brings that feeling into a well-executed, dynamic performance full of stories, puppetry, magic, singing and jokes that both children and adults will love and be captivated by. Will leave you feeling full of wonder and ignite that wonderful imagination that comes from a well-told story.

The performance covers four key Grimm brothers' tales - Hansel and Gretel, The Golden Goose, Beauty and the Beast, The Mouse, Sausage and Bird and Rumplestiltskin. Led by the Storyteller (Ashley Bates) and his band of actors we move through each story, revisiting the settling of storyteller and his actors in between each tale. The cast of four from the Story Pocket Theatre moved seamlessly into each character and worked well as a team, creating entirely new imaginative settings with the smallest of prop or stage changes. Using a variety of mediums - including some incredibly intricate and beautiful puppets - the show kept you constantly entertained with different surprises in the form of song, juggling, audience participation and even some minor acrobatics.

We are first greeted by Bates when we are shown to our seats, he kicks of the magical atmosphere by strolling around silently on stage scribbling fervently - and what he is doing all becomes clear once the show starts. As the performance unfolds, watch out for Bates' little slights of hand and magic tricks that create the perfect imaginative environment for the stories we then see.

The story-telling kicked off with Hansel & Gretel; this was the weaker of all the stories performed, and it would have benefited from more of a comedic spin as we saw in the other tales. However, Sarine Sofair's wicked step-mother and witch was excellent, striking the perfect balance of funny, creepy and mysterious. William Forde is definitely one to watch, his memorable performance in the The Golden Goose was very funny and his tone for all three brothers was wonderfully executed, whilst Emily Beach made the perfect princess with a wonderful pouting face.

The traditional telling of Beauty & the Beast was beautiful to watch, and clearly meant to be the star tale of the show, and understandably so, all four of the troupe gave outstanding performances, particularly Beach as Lily. The Sausage, the Mouse and the Bird saw a lot of laughs and again Forde shines with his comedic performance. Finishing with Rumplestiltskin, this was undoubtedly the best of the stories to be told - and worth waiting for at the end - the puppet used and voices of Rumpelstiltskin himself were incredible and left my inner child yearning for more stories and for the show to just keep going.

For both adults and children - as many of the puns may have been missed by younger audiences - the show will leave you feeling full of wonder and ignite that wonderful imagination that comes from a well-told story.


In an age where Disney dominates the fairytale scene, rediscovering the original Brothers Grimm's tales - where not every prince is charming and not every end is a happy one - is simply illuminating! And there are no better on stage storytellers then the Story Pocket Theatre, currently performing their show A Pocketful of Grimms at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

A play that packs in several Grimm's tales, the show gives its audience a hefty portion of folk tale magic, just enough so that by the end you'll be wanting to rush home to read more. A truly talented cast, the two female members are just remarkable! Be it an ugly witch, small child or even a tree, they morph effortlessly from one character to the next.

An enthralling production with storytelling at its heart, Story Pocket cast a spell over the audience of old, young and even very young. Children are indeed much tougher than we think!


Another fabulous and polished production out of the hat or should I say out of their pocket?

Having been to shows by Story Pocket Theatre before, we had high expectations and we were not disappointed! They have managed to pull another fabulous and polished production out of the hat (or should I say out of their pocket?) This was a delightful retelling of several of the famous Grimms fairy tales with a small but perfectly formed cast whose talent and versatility created energy, intrigue and humour. The chemistry between them all was wonderful.

The story telling was snappy, seamless and fun keeping even the youngest in the audience mesmerised for the full 60 minutes. Parents, you will definitely not be falling asleep either. The costumes were great and the scenery very clever working well with the intimate venue. There was some lovely gentle audience participation, which my daughter enjoyed. An unexpected highlight of the show was the stunning use of puppetry to convey both the Beast (in Beauty and the Beast) which was exquisite, and Rumpelstiltskin who was hilarious. My 6-year-old daughter stated "I loved the spinning gold man mummy" Honestly the best Rumpelstiltskin you will ever see!

Reader's Review

Primary Times reader quote "It's the best show I've seen this year!" - Evie aged 5

A Pocketful of Grimms has pulled out all the stops, with an enchanting production from Story Pocket Theatre. This new show is a highly emotive and an absolutely beautiful work of theatre which is a dream to watch. This is the most delightful and exciting family show that is bursting with fun, silliness, adventure and romance. This is a show you do not want to miss. It is an exceptionally entertaining and creative show, with an inspiring cast!

The storyteller begins by revealing a box inside a cleverly devised yet simple tree stump. He and opens it with his golden key to unveil the fairy tales. The enchanting music provides a magical atmosphere for the audience who are swept away into a remarkable world of stories. The scenery is creatively adapted to open up into two sections so that it becomes a forest, a cottage, a castle, and a garden.

The performance includes the story of Hansel and Gretel where Rayyah McCaul plays the stepmother and the witch and gives a wicked performance; she is so good at being bad! The story of the Golden Goose is full of fun with William Forde who plays the silly character Dumpling with perfect comic timing and funny facial expressions that had the audience laughing in their seats.

Lily and the Lion, is a romantic story of Beauty and the Beast but as you've never seen before and embarks upon a story of the most enduring love. Pernilla Holland, (Lily) gives an amazing performance that touches the audience's hearts. The Lion in the form of a magnificently constructed puppet with large ferocious paws is amazing to see. There is an emotional sequence of a stunningly crafted puppet of a white dove accompanied by the casts' angelic voices. This beautiful love story brings a tear to the eye.

A lovely little amusing section brings the show some comic relief, comprised of a tale of a bird, a mouse and a sausage - Evie (age 5) said, "My favourite bit is - Never send a sausage to collect firewood!"

The tale of Rumpelstiltskin is also portrayed in this brilliant adaptation of the classic story with another beautifully created puppet, Rumpelstiltskin, which is simulated by this amazing cast.

The costumes were very impressive with the story teller's amazing cloak and the fairy tale style dresses and outfits worn by the characters. The scenery and props were seamlessly adapted to each story. So many emotions are conveyed through the stories as they are fused together flawlessly by the fascinating Story Teller Ashley Bates. Evie age 5 said, "I liked the lion that turned into a prince".

It was lovely to see that a story pocket including 5 finger-puppets and story cards and pictures from the stories in the show are able to be purchased to re-create the magical stories at home.

The Scotsman Children's show review: A Pocketful of Grimms

Although it's fun to see traditional stories subverted or modernised, there's something to be said for keeping them pure and simple. When it comes to choosing tales, Story Pocket Theatre figures if it ain't broke, don't fix it...

Although it's fun to see traditional stories subverted or modernised, there's something to be said for keeping them pure and simple. When it comes to choosing tales, Story Pocket Theatre figures if it ain't broke, don't fix it - and broke they most certainly aren't. The stories written by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm have remained popular for over 200 years for good reason - they entertain. Here, Story Pocket takes on four of the brothers' tales: Hansel and Gretel, The Golden Goose, Rumpelstiltskin, and the much lesser-known The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage. They also throw in an old version of Beauty and the Beast, with an ending few will recognise.

Stepping on to the stage in a long velvet coat, our storyteller agrees to let three friends join him in delivering tales. Each is dressed in clothing from centuries ago, leaving us in no doubt that we're back in the 18th century when the Brothers Grimm first put pen to paper. Then we're off. The simple but highly adaptable set opens out to depict a forest, Hansel and Gretel hold hands and the tale begins. We all know the story so well, there's nothing new to discover - yet there's something hugely comforting in that. Spending an hour with Story Pocket Theatre is like curling up in a warm bed, and being read a story while you nibble on a piece of toast.

Which is why A Pocketful of Grimms works for everyone in the room. Rumpelstiltskin is so woven into the fabric of our childhoods, you can hear a collective "yes" from the audience when it starts.

The highly physical performances bring the tales vividly to life, with each character distinct from the last. There's nothing new here - but why would there be? Just well-loved, well-delivered and very well received stories.

Published in The Scotsman on 17 August 2015. Words: Kelly Apter

ED2015 Children's Show Review: A Pocket Full Of Grimms

When we heard that Story Pocket Theatre were headed back to Edinburgh for Fringe 2015 we were delighted, and made an immediate plan to make a bee line for this show, after seeing and loving their brilliant 'Arabian Nights' last year. The company did not disappoint; they've returned with a selection of Grimm's tales that are beautifully scripted, intelligently connected, and skilfully performed against the backdrop of an ever-changing, cleverly constructed set. It's a perfectly judged show, pitched just at the right level to appeal to everyone in the room regardless of age, and entirely cements our conviction that this talented group are producing some of the best children's theatre we have seen. Gilded Balloon, until 31 Aug. tw rating 5/5 | [Caro Moses]

A Pocketful of Grimms review - The Stage - Aug 13 2015

The often rather macabre fairy stories collected by the Brothers Grimm have an enduring power to fascinate, feast and frighten children's imaginations. Yet encountering these tales in popularised and even sanitised forms via film and television, today's youngsters can be unaware of their full richness and scope. Aiming to remedy this, Story Pocket Theatre's dedication to inventive staging of children's stories focuses on Grimm originals, with the favourites Hansel and Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin's appeal commendably broadened by the revival of neglected tales - Golden Goose, Sausage, Mouse and Bird, and Lily and the Lion (the first version of Beauty and the Beast). All feature in Adam Forde's faithfully authentic adaptation.

The result is a totally captivating piece of five-plus children's theatre enjoyably enthralling for parents, too. On Francine Huin-Wah's multi-purpose set (forest, gingerbread house, palace), this very talented cast splendidly conjure Grimm's vivid characters - scared but triumphant youngsters, wicked witches, malign magician, good-hearted dullard winning a royal daughter, merchant's child happy with the lion-prince. Tense moments amid fast-moving scenes, George Jennings' atmospheric music, bursts of humour, realistic puppets including a weird Rumpelstiltskin, are all deftly handled. Zestfully accomplished acting by the four-person cast makes for engrossing storytelling and enthralling make believe.

Verdict: Fairy-tale production, based on the original Grimm stories, for youngsters and family audiences

Words: Brian G Cooper


Gilded Balloon, Aug 15 2015

A Pocketful of Grimms is a staging of five well known (and not so well known) stories by the Brothers Grimm. Stories featured include Hansel and Gretel, The Golden Goose and Rumpelstiltskin.

Story Pocket theatre present these stories beautifully. The set is simple but very clever and is adapted to each individual story. Four performers take on the multiple roles in different tales and they get the children in the audience involved as well. The Brothers Grimm are known for their dark fairy tales and I was pleased to see that these haven't been sugar-coated for the audience. Some of the endings to the stories are fairly brutal but nobody appeared to be too traumatised!

It is quite a challenge to hold the attention of young children for an hour, especially when they are competing with endlessly entertaining flip-up seats in the auditorium! The majority of the audience remained enthralled for the whole performance and there are several occasions where the adults are laughing harder than the kids.

Words: Natalie O'Donoghue

Beckie Rutherford review - 12th Aug 2015

Although many of the messages within the Grimm brother's fairy tales seem dubiously outdated in modern context, this hour-long production from Story Pocket Theatre (winners of the Primary Times Children's Choice Award at last year's Fringe) delightfully showcases half a dozen original stories. This is sprightly, whole-hearted entertainment and well worth a family visit.

The selection of tales was an interesting mix of popular favourites such as Hansel and Gretel with some less well known stories such as The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage. The enthusiasm of the audience response was varied, but depended more upon the complexity of characterisation and plot than preconceived familiarity with certain tales.

The multi-purpose moving set was impressively versatile and enabled seamless transition from one story to the next. It was enchanting for both parents and children alike to witness its swift transformation from a woodland forest to a gingerbread house to a turreted castle. The four cast members' earnest engagement with the audience was charmingly well done and the enlistment of some helpers to enact the Golden Goose parade to market went down a treat.

Some of the best-received characters were unsurprisingly those which were larger-than-life - the dim-witted comics and despicable villains, as opposed to the mild-natured princesses and humble heroes. Rumpelstiltskin particularly stood out - not only for the exquisite craftsmanship of the puppet that was used to portray him but also the wonderfully cantankerous voice that brought it to life. The humorous characters in The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage were light-hearted and refreshing, and some additional wit for parental benefit was finely intermingled with simple visual silliness that will make the kids giggle.

Sound was used to great effect to create a melancholy atmosphere in Lily and the Lion, but sadly was underused elsewhere. For younger children in need of a more immersive sensory introduction to drama, the necessity of concentrating on dialogue for an extended period will probably detract from their engagement and enjoyment of the experience.

That said, Story Pocket Theatre have done a marvellous job of energising some of the best loved, classical fairy tales and the charming enthusiasm of this production will guarantee smiles all-round.

A Pocketful of Grimms, Edinburgh Festivals Magazine August 17th, 2015

A Pocketful of Grimms takes you on a magical fairy tale journey from Hansel & Gretel to Rumpelstiltskin. The four actors in this play are very professional and full of animation. They get right into telling and acting out the stories as you're taking your seat. The venue is compact and slightly warm, so take something to drink and snacks for the kids as the show is over lunch time. My son, who's five, loved this show and sat with his eyes glued to the action throughout. Even my seven month old daughter couldn't look away. The show lasts around an hour, with each fairy tale told over maybe 15 minutes, and since there's such variety there's no chance of your kids getting bored.

There's even some audience interaction and my son and husband were chosen to join in, very good fun. Highly recommended for all the family.

Words: Laura Nelson