Hunter Intro to Theatre

"Into to the Woods" review by Ahtsham Gulraiz

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      What would happen if every major fairy tale character were to come together into one performance? Chaos would ensue and that is exactly what happens in the play Into the Woods. Although the play had many images where there was destruction and confusion, it also balanced these attributes out with quite a bit of humor in between. Some particular images that managed to combine these elements was when the big bad wolf ate little red, the female giant confronting the characters about her dead husband and when the Cinderella teams up with jack to slay the female giant.
      As little red riding hood arrived at her grandma’s house, instantly the music stopped and the lights around the actor of little red riding hood shone on her to indicate that it was her scene. There were other actors near little red riding hood, but their job was to quickly to build “granny’s” house which was a two way ladder that had a white curtain that was made to see the silhouettes inside the house. After they made the house, the supporting actors quickly left to the side of the stage where the lights didn’t shine and the actor of little red went inside the house. During that moment, only a bright spotlight shone at the bottom of the house and it seemed like there was three actors that were inside the house the wolf, granny, and little red. There was a short dialogue between granny and then granny transformed into wolf by the actors using a faux animal head and the lights went black all around the theatre and he wolf “ate little red” as seen with the shadows.
      What made this image lasting in the audience’s mind is that the dialogue was mostly the same one from the modern day fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, however she interacted with the wolf in a tone that made the audience laugh. In contrast to the modern day fairy tale, the director put humor by putting emphasis on the words “hideous” and “ugly”. It felt as if the wolf was actually transforming because of the shadow of the faux animal head looked like granny had transformed and later when it ate red, you could feel the tension as the lights went out. When the wolf actually ate little red, it felt like the play just turned pretty serious whilst before the play had been moving along in a happy tone and seemed like it would be that way throughout the play. The combination of the lighting and no music, gave this image a more dramatic effect to where it actually startled me when the wolf gobbled up red and overall it felt like the director did a good job with combining humor and tension.
      Not only the image of granny being turned into a wolf does it combine the elements of humor and suspense, but also the image of the giant confronting the actors. It started off with small drumming, but gradually it got louder and with each thump of the drum, the lights flickered as to say danger is approaching and then all of a sudden there she was. During that moment when the female giant appears, the lights were dimmed down to give it an ominous feeling as the voice of the actor was enhanced tenfold so it seemed that the other actors were in fact speaking to a giant. All the actors who weren’t playing the giant were looking up to ceiling where the audience were seated to give it the effect that they were looking at the giant and also diverting the audience‘s attention from the barely visible actor on the side who played the giant. Despite the suspense of the image, it was mashed in with humor when the baker’s wife had talked backed to the giant without any fear and showed anger to what it did to her house.
      This moment required the audience to use their imagination quite a bit and they successfully pulled it off too. The thumps of the drum were on point and it gave me a feeling that something big was going to happen and it even made me jump during the final loud thump. The enhanced voice of the giant’s actor made the other characters small and quite possibly the audience members, it certainly gave that aura with the dark blue lighting in the back. It comes back to the theme that there would chaos if all these fairy tale characters were to end up in one scene and the director did a good job showing that in this image.
      Another image which involved the giant was the final battle against Jack and Cinderella. During this moment, The actor who played the giant was seated in front of a light in the middle of the stage and a huge shadow was projected onto the back of the stage to make it look like Jack was fighting a giant. With the use of the shadows, Cinderella’s bird which were made from a paper material, attacked the shadow of the giant and jack had climbed the two way ladder which was meant to be a tower to attack the giant. Jack sliced his sword against the shadow on the wall and eventually he “killed” the giant and the shadow of the actor fell to show the audience that the giant was dead.
      This scene left the biggest impression to me because it was so dramatic. My heart was actually racing when the fight happened not only because I had no idea what was going to happen next, but there was also the chance that the actor could hurt himself if he messed up or accidentally fell onto the stage. The way the birds attacked the giant were also very amusing because they had made a sound every time they pecked the giant and again it shows how the director intertwines humor with suspense. Even though there wasn’t any fancy way on creating a giant, I felt as if using my imagination was the best way for me to see this scene for what it was and the actors are what made it successful.
      Watching Into the Woods was a pleasure to see. The whole production was amazing and it seems like the actors had taken a lot of time in making the play. Some of the singing was extraordinary by the actors and I will never forget the catchy beat of the song Into the Woods that almost every actor sung. As for finding the images that stood, that felt really easy because all the ones mentioned involved something to with the lighting and a feeling of tension with loud sounds which gave me a scare. Amazing play and amazing actors who genuinely seemed to enjoy playing and singing every bit of it and that’s what made it enjoyable to me and the audience as a whole.

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