Theatre Review - Hansel and Gretel and More Tales From the Forest

The Dukes will present Hansel & Gretel in Lancaster's Williamson Park this summer

The Dukes will present Hansel & Gretel in Lancaster's Williamson Park this summer - Credit: NOT Archant

Williamson Park, Lancaster until Saturday August 16

They’re fairy tales but not as you know them. Zosia Wand who wrote the Dukes Theatre’s play in the park this year has taken the bold step of tinkering with the classics.

The Ulverston-based writer has taken elements of the stories we all grew up with and mixed things up. The result could have been an awkward mish-mash of intertwined stories but she has managed to avoid a confusion of plots by weaving in a cast of traditional characters to help Hansel and Gretel find their father.

Red Riding Hood and the (reformed) Wolf make appearances, as do Rumplestiltskin, Goody Two Shoes, a prince-turned-swan, a scene-stealing frog on a tricycle. And, of course, there’s a wicked witch.

Each of the five scenes takes place at a different location around Williamson Park, and they all use the geography of the hill beneath the Ashton Memorial to its best advantage. And the paths between the scenes are lit atmospherically with colour-changing lights in the trees.

The action starts relatively slowly and there are few of the characteristic asides and in-jokes which are often a feature of the Dukes play in the park. But the action picks up, carried along by some very strong performances.

Jessica Baglow is particularly impressive as Gretel, giving a convincing performance and singing well, while Gareth Cassidy playing the roles of Rumplestiltskin and Sydney the Swan was a hit with the younger members of the audience.

Polly Lister’s appearance as the Witch carries just the right amount of menace, although you might not want to be in the front row when she calls for volunteers to visit her palace of fun.

The magical final scene, lit by flaming torches on the lake, will be one of those play in the park moments that lives long in the memory.


* To book tickets for Hansel and Gretel And More Tales From The Forest, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit

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