Sally Cookson used the good-fairy birds and the toe-butchering eye-pecking savagery of the Grimm Brothers version, but wove in panto-style comedy too: the prince is an asthmatic bird-watcher with a striking resemblance to Austin Powers, and there's oodles of saucy cross-dressing. Music is a big part of the magic, Benji Bower and brother Will creating a vivid and exquisite soundscape to match every mood.
Unsurprisingly, this imaginative and cleverly-executed show is sold out till the end of the run but I managed to slip in at a schools performance and enjoyed the add-on pleasure of seeing the children's engrossed enchanted faces and hearing their frank reactions ("Yeah!" as streamers of blood flow from the wicked stepmother's gouged eyeballs, and "Yucch!" for the lovers' smoochy kiss.) Their responses on the blackboard in the foyer said it all: ‘amazing’, ‘brilliant’, ‘loveley but scary', 'I like the lights’ and ‘its great its only 5 people and the music is great’.
And there will now be a short intermission. I'm not taking my laptop to Cambodia, where I'll be offering guidance on finding way of processing through writing what looks like an amazing adventure holiday... full report to follow after 18th January, when I'm home again.