Theatre Group’s freshers’ play is a wickedly funny treat for anyone who enjoyed Shrek.
Happily Ever After? is the creation of writer/director Joe Buckingham. Alastair Hardie stars as sexy scoundrel Big Bad Wolf and plots the downfall of bourgeois elite Prince Charming (Roshan Salgado D’Arcy) by kidnapping Grimm’s good guys. Red Riding Hood is the primary goodie, with Niamh Merrigan bringing a real attitude to the character in contrast to the saccharine sweet Little Pig, Hansel and Gretel.
In the process we discover a series of disgruntled fairytale baddies, sick of their allotted roles. Notable among the antagonists is Liam Hegarty as the Troll who has given up waiting under bridges for goats and now just calls people ‘gay’ on YouTube, along with a terrifyingly feral Goldilocks and hilarious ugly sisters of Cinderella reimagined as Towie wannabes.
When these and the other bad guys band together to exact revenge on the traditional goodies, this show becomes wickedly funny as a love story develops and characters openly question their own roles in the narrative. There are plenty of gags thrown in and a myriad of references to children’s stories as these characters we know are subverted and redefined.
There’s excellent use of the stage and at the interval you’ll be crying out for more. If there’s a criticism the ending feels slightly dragged out and the strongest gags in each scene need to be nearer the end to cover the slow preparation for the next scene. Admittedly these are minor quibbles about a truly excellent play.
Hardie and Merrigan are magnetic as the leads while Olivery Bray and Michael Andrews hilarious as the guards. Joe Curran’s Rumpelstiltskin and Hegarty’s Troll enjoy excellent rapport as half-arsed baddies.
Overall this is a performance Theatre Group can be really proud of and not one to be missed. If you laughed at Shrek you will be in stitches at Happily Ever After.
Happily Ever After? is showing until Saturday 23rd in The Annex.