TAKE one old warehouse with dimly lit stairwells, a rabbit warren of rooms and a selection of artefacts displayed on and hung from the walls and ceilings and you have the perfect place for an evening of story telling.
And that is precisely what a visit to the Bargehouse is. Tucked away behind the Oxo Tower it’s a building you might just walk past. But it is currently home to an imersive production of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales.
Its derelict labyrinthine chambers plus three staircases and an attic, have been transformed into an inspired world of overgrown forests, slaughterhouse kitchens, crumbling industrial castles and dilapidated attic ballrooms.
Once inside the audience is split into groups and are then led into one of the rooms to sit and listen to and watch a selection of the tales adapted by Philip Pullman from the Brothers’ Grimm.
Among the stories are The Frog King or Iron Heinrich, Hansel and Gretel, Thousandfurs, Faithful Johannes, The Goose Girl at the Spring and The Three Little Men in the Woods.
Props are simple and inventive with a bath tub for a well and cotton reels with red thread for strawberries and green plastic gloves filled with water for toads.
The Three Little Men are wooden puppets and two more can be found in Faithful Johannes as the twin boys.
The stories are brought to life by group of 16 actors and musicians who act out the scenes with charm and enthusiasm in sometimes very cramped conditions.
Indeed some of the spaces are so small the audience squashes onto wooden benches or have to stand at the back. Once done, the audience is told to “follow me” and off we go again, led through a maze of corridors and stairs to another room for another story.
It is utterly brilliant – slightly disorientating at times as you never are quite sure exactly where in the building you might be – but it’s exciting and thrilling and a real treat to be part of something that’s a bit mysterious and inventive.
Grimm Tales is on at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street until Saturday, April 11. Tickets cost from £20s. Visit www.grimm-tales.co.uk for tickets.