Into the Woods, Menier Chocolate Factory, London

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The Menier Chocolate Factory has a history of showing great productions of Sondheim musicals, so I went in with high expectations. This American troupe has transferred here, from off Broadway, having had runs in Princeton and San Diego before that.

They bring a stripped down, lo-fi interpretation of “Into the Woods” that is perfectly suited to the intimate surroundings of this theatre. The whole show, including music, is performed by 11 actors and musicians multitasking, with limited props and set changes. The resourcefulness of the company turn this into an asset and the simple setting allows one to notice new details in the lines and new depths in the characters. All of the players are great, but Andy Grotelueschen is fabulous as both the cow (!) and as Rapunzel’s prince. Patrick Mulrayn, who plays Jack, can belt out a tune too.

The set is quirky and funny, it looks like the inside of a piano reimagined as a Victorian dolls house. I particularly liked the piano keys surrounding the stage.

Shows from the Chocolate Factory often transfer to the West End, and this one surely deserves to, you don’t often see the whole audience stand to clap at the end of a show in London – but don’t wait until it does transfer before you go because this theatre is the  perfect setting for such a gem.

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