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All That Was Left of Them Goethe Institut

Remaining Performances: July 11th @ 1 pm July 11th @ 5:15 pm July 12th @ 5 pm

They say: A toy soldier yearns for an impossible love. A girl is punished for her vanity. All That Was Left of Them combines the work of Hans Christian Anderson to praise the importance of fairy tales and question the way we tell stories.

Chris says: Sure enough, this show comprises two fairy tales.  The first is a doomed Toy Story love affair between a tin soldier and a paper doll (hint: he melts, she burns).  The second is a darker cautionary tale for naughty children.  A girl who was to bring a loaf of bread home to her mother has instead stepped on it to navigate her way across a mud puddle.  This misdeed propels her to the devil’s entrance hall, where she she finds herself entangled and starving in a web as demons taunt her with bread.

The tricky part of adapting a narrative work for the stage is making the “this happened, and then this happened” into action.  The cheater’s method is to leave the narration intact.  There are moments, especially in the first fairy tale, when one of the actors quotes from the fairy tale while another acts out the scene like a Christmas pantomime.

Mostly, however, the adaptors grapple with the flatness of narration not by banishing it but by making it into the performance.  The highlight of the evening is a series of retellings of the story of “The Girl Who Stepped on Bread” in the style of an evangelical sermon, a radio drama, a Broadway musical number, etc.

Is this mash-up of styles a choice (and a good one at that) or a consequence of too, too many aesthetic contributors (two directors and seven writers are credited)?  I want it to be the former, but I suspect it’s the latter.  In other words, there are some good bits in this performance, but the creators are not confident about their choices.

See it if: You like fairy tales.

Skip it if: College theater turns you off.