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The Girl With the Iron Claws
Published on Tuesday, 23 August 2011

3 stars

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
4-24, 26-28 Aug, 1:35pm-2:35pm; 25 Aug, 10:45am-11:45am, 1:35pm-2:35pm
Reviewed by Carmel Doohan

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

Growing up isn't easy, especially when you're in love with a bear. This collage of fairy tales combines Nordic myth with Beauty and the Beast to make a vibrant, mixed-media show. A gentle feminist slant sees our heroine fight follow her instincts in a world of folk songs and puppetry.

The wrong crowd is a collaboration between writer/director Hannah Mulder and designer/puppet director, Rachael Canning. Together they want to investigate the pre-Victorian versions of fairy stories, and reinstate the fire of their original forms. They use many sources to do this, with an elegant shadow sequence of the Eros and Psyche myth following a Neverending Story ride through the sky atop a flying white bear.

While the necessarily repetitive nature of the story – tradition dictates that each event must always occur three times – does grow a little boring, and the main actress doesn't always have the presence necessary to convince, moments of sudden, gleeful wit and the general enthusiasm carries the audience along.

This is clearly aimed more at kids than adults, but would still gain power from subverting its subject further; for all the talk of wildness and daring, the happy ending via marriage and children remains intact.

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