Wednesday, May 3, 2017

'Gnaw' Is A Hansel & Gretel With A Dark Twist

Gnaw, a gruesome reimagining of Hansel and Gretel, focuses on one family’s struggle to survive as a famine ravages the country and a witch haunts the nearby woods.

Yes - we agree: Hansel and Gretel is already pretty dark, but in Sean Meldrum's Gnaw, it gets even darker. By all accounts, this play certainly fits into the horror genre, or at least psychological horror. The stepmother/witch character can only be described as terrifying.

Brave secondary school, A.N. Meyer, (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), staged a production of Gnaw last weekend and blew audiences, and peers, away. And, boy do we wish we could have seen it for ourselves! Youth theater has the potential to be brutally honest and emotional and it sounds like all involved achieved precisely that. Congratulations A.N. Meyer!

Unfortunately, there aren't many images of the A.N. Meyer's production so, apart from the two above, this poster we pulled from the school website and the announcement below from the Arts section of the school newsletter, we've included images from Sean Meldrum's first showing (posters etc) and four at the end of the post from the original production, to give you an idea of what it's like.

Here are excerpts from some of the Cappies peer reviews (ie. secondary school reviewers, training in theater arts criticism and journalism, all of whom did excellent work! Credits and the school the reviewer attends are listed at the end of the extract):
We all know the classic story of Hansel and Gretel — or do we? In this sinister retelling, A.N. Myer presents a version in which happily ever after is never found.In a village struck by famine, Hansel and Gretel live with their harsh parents in a house devastated by poverty. Their father, Bullpig, is the leader of a mysterious pack that ravages refugees to find sustenance. When he goes on a trip from which he might not return, desperation hangs heavy above the family, their main source of meals gone. Left with their dauntingly severe mother, the lengths they take to find food are rivetingly depicted. As tensions mount, the fine line between reality and fiction comes into question.  
Overall, A.N. Myer’s recent production of Gnaw was a thrilling performance that showcased the witches living within us all. (Grace Dobbie - Greater Fort Erie Secondary School)

A.N. Myer’s thrillingly morbid production of Gnaw is not for the weak of heart, nor the weak of stomach. This “fractured fairytale” turned beliefs of right and wrong entirely upside-down in a series of horrifying twists. Raw, powerful acting coupled with unique elements such as live sound effects and shadow puppetry made for an utterly chilling experience.
Gnaw was written by Queen’s student Sean Meldrum for the Toronto Fringe Festival, where it was described as “raw and unapologetic” (Queen’s Review Journal). It tells a dark, reimagined version of Hansel and Gretel. Their family is desperately attempting to stay alive in the midst of a devastating famine, and rumours begin to swirl of a witch that haunts the nearby forest. The audience follows the family’s story, and learns the gruesome lengths to which each family member will go to survive. (Michaela Bax-Leaney - Eden High School)
Sounds chilling, doesn't it?

And we can only find two quotes from the screenplay, but combined, they give the chills all by themselves:
 "Violence, my children, is a snake that is eating itself."
and then, simply:
"You must be hungry."
We're guessing no audience member - or participant - will forget Meldrum's Hansel & Gretel any time soon!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks, helpful view with limited resources from actual school or program, but this genre is running through so many books, the graphic novels, comics, film, animation, that no surprising is waiting for some of us who have taught school and worked as librarians with the young and youth.
    Clive Hicks has a book out on Hansel and Gretel and the illustrations of his and the story line are horrifying strong angles, lines, shadow, wood cuts - marvelous techniques but how far will this type of genre develop? Parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, cinematographers???? Thanks for your insights, atk