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<<  -- 2 --  Mike Wheeler    EMOTIONALLY DEVASTATING


Glyn Kerslake and Jody Crozier, as the two Princes, give a hilarious display of male egos completely at sea in the emotionally-charged situation of Act 2. Their handling of the duet 'Agony' both reveals their bewilderment and suggests a maturity waiting for them to let it out, if only they knew how. Kerslake is also an arch-smoothie on the make as the Wolf.

Annalene Beechey's Cinderella undertakes her journey from rags to riches to not-quite-rags again, emerging as in some ways the strongest character of all. Adèle Anderson sneers haughtily as her step-mother, is Little Red Riding Hood's surprisingly nimble Granny, and does an imperious voice-over as the Giant's Wife.

The culminating numbers of Act 2, 'No more' and 'No one is alone', are profoundly moving, as the surviving characters take stock of what's happened and their responsibility for it, and begin to look to the future. In fact, let's knock on the head once and for all the nonsense, which still seems to be current, about Sondheim's shows being heartless and cynical. Clear-eyed and unsentimentally honest, yes, but it's precisely because they refuse to tug overtly at our heart-strings (as Julian Woolford points out in the programme), that they pack such a hefty emotional wallop.

This dazzling, funny, emotionally devastating production will have the music, the words -- and, just as important, the ideas -- racing round your head for days.

Copyright © 16 May 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


Mike Wheeler's review is based on the 2.30pm matinée performance on Saturday 13 May 2006 at Derby Playhouse. Into the Woods (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine) continues until 20 May 2006, with performances each evening at 7.30pm. Details at


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