The Bride is Wild
Kneehigh, which had such a success with its production of Brief Encounter, is currently touring the UK and going to the Dublin Theatre Festival with a new show, Wild Bride, based on a Hungarian folk tale.
The company’s approach is to do theatre of the most Epic and Brechtian kind; accessibility and entertainment with a sting is its stock-in-trade. Yet again, Emma Rice has adapted and directed a show that is kinetic, exciting, engaging, uplifting and thought-provoking. There is not enough praise possible for the five performers and the musician who inhabit the stage in a stunningly evocative set that can adapt to any location. A Faustian “devil-wants-your-soul” tale with snatches of Snow White and grim versions of other folktales linked with Jungian imagination, the story totally engages you from the first line.
A father unwittingly sells the soul of his virtuous and virginal daughter to the devil; the telling of what happens to her over several years is developed through mime, dance, linguistics, and song. It’s an inventive mix, cheeky and magical. It’s also surprisingly moving, given the abundance of alienation effect throughout. As in every good fairy tale, you relate to the central character and root for her to win out, somehow, in the end. And, of course, she does (after all, it’s a fairy tale); but it’s never easy for her and, even though you know she will triumph, much of the tale is wince-making in its sheer gleeful diabolical nastiness.
This production restores your faith in the power of the stage to feed your imagination. Revolving around three amazing actresses/dancers/musicians playing the Wild Bride at various stages of her development, and a convoluted story that will prime your nightmares for days to come, The Wild Bride is also amazingly coherent; you’re never at a loss for where you are in this fantastical tale. The cast takes on all the various roles each one played with tremendous aplomb and energy. Etta Murfitt deserves praise for her choreography/movement work, and so does everyone else involved in this show.
If you’re lucky, it will be coming soon to a theater near you. Meantime, I’ll tantalize you with a short video of the show: kneehigh video. And then check the Kneehigh website to see if you can get to a performance. And prepare to be delighted, moved, and stirred: kneehigh website