Fringe Fest Review #1: Grimm Tales
Review by Jenn Zuko
Storytelling is one of those theatrical forms that is not as well known or certainly as commonly practiced as others today. I’m not sure why that is, unless it’s a matter of the general public misunderstanding the art as something only old lady librarians or tribal shamans do. Truth be told, the art of storytelling is one of the richest practices one can experience, on either side of the stage (and I’ve been both places, readers, so I should know). Stories With Spirit is the first Fringe group I was able to enjoy at this year’s festival, and I couldn’t have been happier with what I saw.
Rachel Ann and Cooper are not reciting text verbatim from a script. They’re not acting out scenes and dialogue together. Nope, they are telling the story, in their words, not because they know their lines, but because they know their stories, and this makes all the difference in good storytelling. They have chosen a variety of tales from the Brothers Grimm that span from the bizarre (a bird, a mouse, and a bratwurst living together?) to the dark (innocently murderous children, or are they?) to the familiar but not so familiar (a delightful run on commentary on an old version of Cinderella). Cooper, in particular, has a near-perfect blend of the comfortably natural and the powerful actor in his delivery, and to see him walk downstage as the angry, fooled-thrice Devil himself is enough to send delightful goosebumps up the arms.
One little thing that I did wish: I had hoped they would treat at least one of their longer stories the way they did their 5th of the Princess Bride last year: telling the story together, as a pair. This show consists of them trading off stories back and forth, which was great, don’t get me wrong, I just would have liked…maybe the last one, about the hunchback and the Princess, to be done together, instead of one at a time. Totally not a criticism, however, they’re both compelling to listen to, and it’s easy to become transported to these strange varied worlds. Though you may have told some versions of Grimm’s tales to your children, I wouldn’t bring very young ones to this show–another common misconception of storytelling is that it’s just for kids. This well-curated collection of gruesome, compelling tales well told is not.
Find the rest of these performances at Boulder Fringe.