Printable CopyLOWGROUND - A MUSICAL RETELLING OF GRIMMS RAPUNZEL
Tower Productions
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 05 May 2018

Review by Anthony Vawser

It’s always encouraging to witness theatre groups willing to think outside the box and take a chance on stretching the expected boundaries of a traditional story.

Multi-talented Casey Thomson has not only written, produced, and directed “Lowground”, but also appears onstage in the striking role of the Witch. Jonathon Crouch narrates as the Imp, in a manner that tended to vary between intriguing and puzzling.

Courtney Robb is an impressively unconventional Rapunzel, creatively costumed and in possession of a most appealing vocal ability. Kacey Guy Stephenson’s Prince seems a relatively underwritten part, though he cuts the right figure in the role, shining as strongly as the script will allow him to.

The four actors in the cast are augmented by an equal number of musicians (Emma Luker, Dee Trewartha, Kerryn Schofield, & Shaun Doddy), performing Thomson’s own compositions (with Stephenson also demonstrating a deft touch on what appeared to be an electric mandolin). The deployment of a contrabass flute leaves an undeniable visual impact in addition to a musical one.

Stephen Dean’s lighting design strives – as do most of the songs - for a spooky mood which is often successfully achieved here, but occasionally at the expense of visual clarity. Sound levels are mostly well-managed by Noni Espinosa, though the quietest moments of the narration proved a struggle for this reviewer to discern, even with the use of vocal microphones. Bianka Kennedy can be proud of the contribution made by her set and (especially) costume designs.

The textures brought to this show by the various visual and aural components – particularly the accomplished playing of songs, in a varied mixture of styles - generate a dimensional quality that makes the hour-long “Lowground” a satisfyingly creative excursion into the storytelling traditions of the past in order to show us a perspective on the Grimm’s fairy tale that we likely have not seen before.