Hansel & Gretel at the Barbican by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Hansel & Gretel

London premiere at the Milton Court Concert Hall, Barbican, at 7.30pm, October 12th.


Music: Matt Kaner

Words: Simon Armitage

Director and Supervising Designer: Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Produced by Kate Romano for Goldfield Productions

Dramaturgy: Caroline Clegg

Narrator/Singer: Adey Grummet

Puppeteers: Di Ford and Lizzie Wort

Music performed by the Goldfield Ensemble

Puppets: Jan Zalud

Puppet Wardrobe Supervison: Oonagh Creighton-Griffiths

Models and Collage: Phil Cooper

Paper-cuts: Peter Lloyd

Animation: Clive Hicks-Jenkins assisted by Phil Cooper

Model and Animation Camera: Pete Telfer of Culture Colony

Vision Mixer and Stage Camera: Jon Street of the Moth Factory

Lighting Design: David Abra

Stage Management: Andy Shewan

Photograph courtesy of Still Moving Media

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: revised edition of Simon Armitage's translation from Faber and Faber by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

The revised edition of Simon Armitage's translation, originally published in 2007, is now available in an edition illustrated on the dust-jacket and throughout the text with image's from the Clive Hicks-Jenkins/Penfold Press set of fourteen prints on the theme of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Available from 18th October directly from Faber & Faber or a bookshop of your choice.


4 * review for Hansel & Gretel in The Guardian by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Pulling all the strings … Hansel & Gretel with Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort. Photograph: Spencer McPherson/Still Moving Media

Pulling all the strings … Hansel & Gretel with Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort. Photograph: Spencer McPherson/Still Moving Media

Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham

In this striking modern update, set to words by Simon Armitage and music by Matthew Kaner, the children are refugees and the fairytale is a nightmare

Pulling all the strings … Hansel & Gretel with Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort. Photograph: Spencer McPherson/Still Moving Media

Not a sugary dream, but a nightmare in eight scenes: make no bones about poet Simon Armitage’s contemporary retelling of the tale most familiar in the Brothers Grimm version. Hansel and Gretel’s plight becomes that of child refugees, whose parents’ agonising decision is to abandon their offspring to give them their only chance of surviving war. Armitage took his cue from the darkly imaginative illustrations by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who has now translated those original visions into a puppet show with new music by Matthew Kaner. In this premiere performance at the Cheltenham Festival, staged by Goldfield Productions, what appeared at first to be a slight, small-scale affair in the end resonated altogether more deeply.

Kaner’s quintet of players – strings, wind and toy pianos – were arranged on either side of a screen whose animated shadow play featured first the parents and then the ravenous craw of the archaeopteryx-like witch. On the central trestle table were Hansel and Gretel, wooden puppets barely a foot high that were manipulated by Diana Ford and Lizzie Wort. It was the intimacy of tiny gestures offering expressive detail, in turn mirroring Kaner’s musical mood, that spoke volumes. Armitage’s words are the constantly shining white pebbles guiding the piece; his final verbal riff on light and dark will be even better savoured on the published page. Narrator Adey Grummet – twice bursting into sung lines – emphasised the mix of humour and satire with the moments of dystopian horror, making this an all too timely reminder of some children’s living, waking, starving nightmare.


Rian Evans

Touring until 4 November.