City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Little Red Riding Hood, St Andrew Square, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 20 December 2013

Little Red Riding Hood
Show Details
St Andrew Square
Nonsense Room Productions
Simon Beattie (writer), Matthew Brown (music), Gillian Argo (design), Bruce Strachan (director, Neil Wykes (photographer)
Luke McConnell (Wolf/Barry the Badger), Sheena Penson (Granny Red), Bruce Strachan (Dad/Stanley the Squirrel), Sarah Swire (Scarlet)
Running time: 

A sanitised new take on a scary old tale.

Magic and the bequeathing of its powers through a red cloak are at the core of this version of the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. Gone is the sickly Granny who needs provisions carried through the forest by her grand –daughter. Gone is Red Riding Hood’s mother who is only referred to in sorrowful tones. Instead the girl has become the daughter of the woodsman and is called Scarlet.

Scarlet (Sarah Swire) is bored with the dull daily run of things and longs for adventure. She gets a message from the pukka voiced puppet Barry the Badger that she is urgently summoned to her Grandmother’s cottage. Her Dad (Bruce Strachan) forbids the trip warning her of the dangers of the forest but Scarlet defies him. She travels with Stanley the Squirrel (Bruce Strachan as puppeteer) and meets the Wolf (Luke McConnell) who is apparently no longer a danger following a dose of Granny Red’s magic.

However, just as leopards don’t change their spots wolves do not change their carnivorous habits, especially as the magic is waning as Granny Red gets older. At this point, the traditional story returns as Scarlet is tricked into taking a wrong turning by the Wolf, allowing him to reach Granny Red’s forest cottage first where he ties Granny up in a cupboard, and gets in to her bed disguised in her nightcap. Scarlet arrives and the famous dialogue of “What big eyes you have!” etc. ensues.

After the situation is saved by the appearance of Scarlet’s Dad the woodsman, Granny Red (Sheena Penson) passes the red cloak along with its power to Scarlet, finally giving her the name Red Riding Hood. The Wolf is not killed but also wears a red cap and magically becomes the woodsman’s helper.

This is an interesting twist but the result was a humourless piece full of modern self-absorbed angst that is not pitched well enough at wee ones.

Despite the intimate setting of the Paradiso Spiegeltent, there is little direct connection with the audience. Much of the dialogue is shouted despite the actors being miked up, although the volume of the piano may have played a part in that. The music is not very catchy and certainly not for joining in with – a missed opportunity in a children’s show. At the crucial part of the show when the Wolf is in bed dressed as Granny, he is in a part of the stage that is not easy to see and Scarlet and Stanley the Squirrel have their backs to the audience.

The lighting that creates a storm, a full moon and the green rays of the forest is impressive and the beautifully appliquéd costumes are exquisitely made but sadly no credit is given for these particular skills. The hand puppets of badger, mouse, owl and squirrel are well made and nicely handled and Luke McConnell brings some slapstick and physicality to the role of Wolf.

The howling ‘60s hit song from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, L’il Red Ridin Hood, says “Even bad wolves can be good” and while that is what this show proposes it largely misses out on the fear and danger that kids love in the safe environs of theatre. While there are decent individual performances much comes across as over eager. This version of the old story feels more like a ‘right on’ made- for- TV children’s show with a message of teenage rebellion, the distinct Mid Atlantic tone throughout giving weight to that impression. Not quite down with the kids.

Show Times

17 December 2013 – 5 January 2014 (Not 25 December or 1 January), 11.30am & 1.30pm

Age recommend 3+


£10 - £20