Once upon a time, somewhere in Melbourne, there lived a brother and a sister called Hansel and Gretel right next to a great dark forest. Gretel was a bit of a babe, who knew how to look after herself, and Hansel a whimpy kid with aspirations to become a solid Aussi bloke. Under false pretenses Gretel lured Hansel away from home, in the hope of meeting Prince Charming and the allure of a better life.
Bread Crumbs is a self-devised play by recent graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts and uses Grimm fairytales as a framework to address issues around gender roles and domestic violence in Australia.
At first, an omnipresent male narrator guides the audience into the classic story with both Hansel and Gretel dressed in period-appropriate costumes, happily skipping through the forest. As the play unfolds, the fairy story slowly peels away and it becomes clear that the children are escaping an abusive home. Hansel is in denial about his father’s violence and has his mind set for a life of male entitlement.
Gretel blames her mother for letting the bad things happen. Her desperate search for Prince Charming sees her in a situation that repeats the abusive cycle despite all her efforts to make herself ‘perfect’. As she descends into a role of submission that is dictated by societal pressures, the omnipresent narrator becomes more and more controlling. When Gretel confronts the storyteller directly he himself is exposed as an MRA member and a victim of the same system.
This production is exquisite. It strikes the perfect balance between humour and discomfort. The use of props, costumes and lighting is excellent; the acting is superb. Ruby Johnston and Benjamin Nichol do a marvellous job in capturing the innocence of fairytales and the transition into modern day Australian society through their characters. Their dialogue cleverly encapsulates Grimm’s language, Melbourne vernacular and profanities and helps illustrate the damaging effect of traditional and unequal gender roles.
At a time where more and more women speak out about daily harassment, this play really has its finger on the pulse of time. Bread Crumbs runs until 2 December 2017 at the Meat Market in North Melbourne as part of the Poppy Seed Theatre Festival and is a must-see!
Claudia B. is a German/Kiwi graphic designer and illustrator who has been living and working in Melbourne for the last six years. She enjoys a good glass of scotch and the occasional pole dancing class. Claudia also helps donate proceeds from www.notthispussy.com.au to charities in support of women’s rights, refugees and climate change.
BREAD CRUMBS runs 21 November – 2 December 2017, at Meat Market, Stables. Purchase tickets now.
The venue is wheelchair accessible.