We all know some fairy tales, be they in the gothic style of the Grimm brothers or the glossy animations of Disney, and yet if we look closely enough we can still find new ways to interpret them.
In The Beast and The Bride, we’re told a selection of tales from the perspective of a Victorian-era woman. She has locked herself in her childhood bedroom on her wedding night.
The bride is anxious and fearful – trapped by expectation and a promise of obedience – and she’s questioning the concepts that fairy tales have taught us. As she swirls her dress and pulls a lamp to her face, like a child with a torch beneath the bedsheets, we enter a world of myths and fables.
This solo performance features spectacular shadow puppetry. Images are created through a range of techniques as Adelaide, the newly-wed character, explores stories of girlish brides and monstrous men.
As we watch shadows dance around the theatre, we feel the dynamics of power and fear that lace each tale. Soon, we begin to see the implications that Adelaide has discovered for herself.
Clare Testoni, the writer and performer of this show, is clearly in her element flitting between these well-loved tales and illustrating their settings with both dramatic and delicate shadow-forms. While most of the shadow puppetry was stunningly impressive, some critical parts were awkwardly delivered and detracted from the flow of Testoni’s narration.
The Beast and The Bride aims to question traditional tales through the lens of feminism. It does this very well. This is, perhaps, the most compelling aspect of the meta-tale that we’re offered.
This show addresses the representation of women and girls, but also the portrayal of the male in each story. Why are men so often portrayed as monsters, beasts, and dangerously powerful creatures? Even more so, why do we keep telling these stories in this way?
In The Beast and The Bride, we enjoy dramatic storytelling, but we also leave questioning what the perpetuation of these problematic narratives says about our society.