Hansel and Gretel

 

 


Written 1978

First produced RSC The Other Place, Stratford

 

'Now I am a witch like Mummy...' The witch's hapless daughter Olive, disfigured by a botched face-transplant, strives to win her mother's love by casting a spell to fatten Hansel for the Christmas pot. Barbara Kinghorn: RSC, Other Place, Stratford, 1980. 

The traditional story, set in the brutal social landscape of Thatcher's (and post-Thatcher) Britain. Domestic life with the Witch - after all, kidnapping this particular pair is to prove the worst mistake she ever made. A rough and ruthless piece, peppered with childrens' 'groan' jokes, and with utter disregard for taste or the politically correct. Elements are grafted in from other tales: the Witch's own, ugly daughter, who wants a new face; the Sandman and his umbrella of dreams; the Big Bad Wolf; a lovesick boy labourer who has been changed into a pig...

A farcical, Artaudian riposte to Ashes - it is, among other things, a nightmare vision of parenthood, and dedicated to my own children.

Written 1978, first produced RSC The Other Place, Stratford. Subsequent productions have been by schools and colleges - among them, a punkish staging at RADA (dir. Brian Stirner) that demonstrated in its raw headlong fearlessness how drama students can more powerfully unlock the energy of such a play, than can professionals who have technique to protect them and egos to preserve. (I've seen this apply to some of my other stage work too.)

Minimum 4 m. 3f., including two doublings 1 m. 1 f. At RADA the Witch was played by a man - an awesome horror, and a triumph. Text unpublished but available from my agent.