Review Round Up: Into the Woods, Theatre Royal Bath

We take a look at what critics have had to say about Terry Gilliam and Leah Houseman’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical.  

(c)Marc Brenner

WhatsOnStage: *** “It’s difficult to judge exactly which way it’s going to fall, as while the production is impeccably cast, beautifully designed, and with a couple of moments of sheer wonderment and dazzle, its staging is also overtly busy at times and lacking an emotional core. This is a work that by the end leaves its audience emotionally shattered. It’s currently visually sensational as one would expect from that visual master Gilliam while remaining stand-off-ish in tone.”

The Guardian: *** “There are plenty of visual delights with fluttering puppetry (by Billie Achilleos) and gorgeous masks, along with Jon Bausor’s set design whose flat woodland resembles illustrations from the pages of a children’s story book. Human figures appear with animal heads and there is a beautiful, speaking flower pot representing Cinderella’s dead mother, both of which look like imagery from a Paula Rego painting. Mark Henderson’s lighting is fabulous too, along with creepy shadow play, as the story reaches beyond the “happy ever afters” and into marital unrest, terror and loss.”

The Telegraph: **** “What’s the verdict? The evening is a logistical triumph in terms of working wonders in a smaller venue than originally envisaged; and for reasons of artistic self-expression alone, it’s a must-support rather than a mere must-see. Still, at this point in time the experience warrants, I’d say, two and a half cheers.”

The Arts Desk: ***** “What will get audiences back into theatres? Revivals of old favourites. Works from popular genres like musicals. Pantomimes. This production of Into The Woods kinda ticks all those boxes, but it also ticks the box that matters most. It is a unique experience – not podcastable, not downloadable, not multiplexable.”

Broadway World: **** “There’s something to please everyone in this layered production. Even my musicals-loathing companion – who usually looks like he wants to escape into the woods during a performance – was won round by Rhashan Stone’s rendition (as the Baker) of “No One is Alone”. A song about pain, loneliness and loss, and why it’s better to face things together to get out of the woods – a parable that couldn’t be more apt in today’s split society.”

The Stage: **** “Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman’s opulent, if overstuffed production of Sondheim’s musical fable.”

Theatre Cat: ***** ” It’s always an arresting show:  spiky Sondheim music and arresting lyrics you take away for ever, wild wit,  looming menace, dry jokes.  He is never without properly troubling depths, Sondheim, and here offers a harshly wise, hilariously serious reflection on the vanity of wishes and the power of childlike imagination in a world of flawed adults. And in hands like this – Gilliam’sand Hausman’s – Into The Woods becomes an event to remember for life.”

The Times: *** “The visuals are what linger in the memory. The moment you enter the ornate auditorium, Jon Bausor’s sumptuous set design — inspired by a Victorian toy theatre — transports you into a hypnotic realm of make-believe. As you would expect with a Terry Gilliam production – he co-directs alongside the choreographer Leah Hausman – this lavish revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s tangled compendium of fairytales is never less than eye-catching.”

British Theatre Guide: “Gilliam and co-director Leah Hausman concoct a darker take, with plenty of the former’s trademarks stamped across the production. Lapine’s book weaves through plenty, and is naturally funny, and Sondheim’s take-no-prisoners approach can be difficult to juggle. On the production side is where this really shines—a technical triumph. The Victorian toy-inspired set delivers a dynamic demonstration. From giant swinging clocks to actual giants, moving forests and life-sized Heinz baked beans tins, its elaborate and daring choices slot in nicely with the environment Sondheim and Lapine created.”

The Daily Mail: **** “Gloating may be unseemly but Terry Gilliam has certainly earned the right to crow about his stunning new production of Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale musical.”

Stage Talk Magazine: **** “Catching the eye in particular, Julian Bleach’s Mysterious Man brought a delectably dark undertaker’s menace to the proceedings, while Nicola Hughes’ witch seethed with palpable venom. Lauren Conroy as Red Riding Hood, Audrey Brisson as Cinderella and Alex Young as the baker’s wife were sharp as they subverted traditional roles. Almost stealing the show, Faith Prendergast’s depiction of Jack’s cow Milky White was a delight.”

Into the Woods continues to play at the Theatre Royal Bath until the 10th September.

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