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Grimm's fairy tales re-written for Huddersfield audiences

Grimm but not grim collection of fairy tales written for the stage by Huddersfield Thespian Alistair Cheetham and Alex Watkins

Rehearsal of Grimm Up North by Huddersfield Thespians. Picture by David Wright

It’s probably fair to say that Huddersfield Thespians have probably never tackled anything quite as unusual as their latest production, Grimm Up North.

The family show, which has been written by Thespian Alistair Cheetham in collaboration with his son Alex Watkins, takes the traditional fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm as a starting point but leads them off in a novel and humorous direction.

While audiences will spot classic characters such as Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, the stories have been woven together with less familiar tales like The Devil’s Grandmother and The Girl Without Hands.

And although the playwrights have stuck to the sentiments behind the original fairy stories, often grim as well as Grimm - and not the modern well-known Disney versions - they promise that theirs is a rapid-fire production that will have audiences laughing out loud.

“When I say it’s a family show, I really mean a family show,” says Alistair, who has written for the Thespians before and is directing the play. “It’s not one of those shows for kids that adults say ‘that’s nice, but when is it finishing?’ A lot of the very fast, physical theatre is for the kids, but the script is for older children and the adults watching. It’s good clean fun.”

The show, which opens on Wednesday, February 22, for half term, has topical jokes and delivers the story through the use of two narrators as well as actors playing multiple parts. It’s a challenging production for both the cast and back-stage staff.

“We are really enjoying rehearsals,” said Alistair, “and doing a lot of laughing. But there’s a lot for the actors to learn. Right at the end of the play there’s a mad 90 second re-cap of the whole play, which is completely and utterly bonkers. It’s very demanding for them.”

For the first-time ever the Thespians are staging a relaxed performance on Saturday, February 2, at 10.30am) for those with learning difficulties, autism or other conditions that make trips to the theatre difficult.

Tickets for the show are £8 and £12 from thelbt.org.uk or 01484 430528.

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