Review: Little Red Riding Hood (Liverpool Actors Studio)

One of Liverpool’s best family shows this Christmas is to be found in the cosy surroundings of the Liverpool Actors Studio on Seel Street.

Karen Black, who wrote The Gingerbread Man (last year’s hit Christmas show at this theatre), has delivered the goods again with a clever, inventive re-telling of another fairytale classic.

There can’t be many versions of Little Red Riding Hood where for much of the play the notional heroine is probably the least sympathetic character. Red (Gemma Brodrick) is a high-achieving young student, but also a prim goody two shoes who’s embarrassed by her unashamedly proletarian mother and grandmother. Loud, karaoke-loving Mum (Catherine Rice) walks around wearing giant hair rollers, while Grandma (Leroy Liburd) is an Afro-Caribbean New Age pantomime dame who’s into alternative medicine and addicted to television shopping channels. The Wolf (Barrie Ryan English) is a mixed-up bag of nerves who’s in denial about his true nature: he’s not really big or bad at all, and his attempts to frighten the other characters (and the audience) are risible. But then he drinks some of Grandma’s magic potion and things start to get very interesting…

The varied, well drawn characters (all excellently performed) ensure our interest in what’s happening on stage never flags. As you may have gathered, there’s plenty for the adults in the audience to laugh at, but while a few of the jokes may have gone over the head of the five year old who was with me, he got enough of them, had no trouble following the story and in the second half (when things got really riotous) was bellowing ‘Behind you!’ and ‘In the woods!’ with the best of them. By the end of the show Red and the Wolf have learned some important moral lessons and all of the audience are on their feet, singing along to Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and dancing in their seats to We Are Family.

The Liverpool Actors Studio Theatre is a small venue with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and everyone left with a smile on their face. Ticket prices are excellent value, and they’ve already been having deservedly full houses for this show. If you’re looking for a Christmas treat for all the family that’s relatively inexpensive but hugely entertaining, you’ll find it in Seel Street.

Little Red Riding Hood is at the Liverpool Actors Studio Theatre (36 Seel Street) until 21st December. For more information visit the theatre’s website: www.theliverpoolactorsstudio.com