Box Tale Soup’s legacy at the Fringe is one that provides a guaranteed chill, accompanied by a breathtaking set and a few carefully crafted puppets thrown in for good measure. ‘Great Grimm Tales’, playing at Big Belly at Underbelly Cowgate until the 25th of August, is a perfectly curated mix of mythology, comedy, and physicality.
Three actors present the story, led by company founder Antonia Christophers, tell the story of a poor woman who promised her elderly neighbor that she would watch his grave for three nights following his death, in return for some food for her starving children. A soldier appears to accompany her, and the two share various stories they have learnt over their lives.
One of the defining qualities of this company, and what drew me back to them after seeing them last year, is the way they incorporate elements of paper and text into their costumes, set, and, most amazingly, beautiful life-like puppets that serve to further the story. Props and costume change hands so quickly that transitions are barely noticeable, usually ushered in and out by changes in lighting and sound, all seamlessly edited.
Something different about this year’s show was the incorporation of rhythm and song. Rhythmic banging ushered in one story, snapping brought in another. It created a real sense of atmosphere, and was an interesting accompaniment to some of the shorter stories. Another difference I noticed was a larger lean towards comedy- while their past productions have engaged more head-on with horror and tragedy, this one combined both to create a dark, fantastical comedy. There is something sinister about the way the three actors handle the characterisation of their individual characters, and how most of the stories have grisly or tragic ends in order to communicate a moral story.
The actors have an incredible command of the visually engaging set; two boards slotted together create a fire, paper trees are moved around the space, a ruff made of paper fire identifies a beast in multiple stories. Every element of the show works together incredibly and makes for an amazing hour of theatre. For a visually thrilling, spine-chilling, and thoroughly entertaining show, make sure to check out Great Grimm Tales.
Great Grimm Tales runs until the 25th of August – buy tickets here.