FringeTastic: Happily Ever After

By Liz Oakley11th Grade, Brearley School Happily Ever After is the twisted tale of a boy’s nightmare world, in which the Brothers Grimm are the dark ringleaders of a tortured circus of their own characters. The majority of the piece is the performance of this circus, which doesn’t always go exactly as planned for the brothers. They have to force their own characters into submission, making them perform acts that are sometimes quite beautiful and impressive. The characters as they appear in the circus, however, don’t seem to have much to do with the characters in the written stories we all know. This is too bad, since the most fascinating idea explored by this show is the relationship between a person and their story. The characters, who include Sleeping Beauty, Hansel, and Rapunzel, reveal the more disturbing aspects of their tales which the brothers forced them to endure, but might not have written down. The play is transfixing most of the time with live music, spooky a cappella singing, and tightly choreographed synchronized movement from the fascinating pair of brothers. The best moments of Happily Ever After are when it surprises you, particularly with its clever jokes that cut through the darkness of the play and make that darkness delightful. The brothers, for example, are not always too good at their jobs as ringleaders, and in several entertaining sequences they mess up their act and get frustrated with their own inability to succeed. Too often, though, the show crosses the line between picturesquely creepy and downright disturbing, and ultimately leaves us on a very dark note. Happily Ever After is mostly entertaining for its 60 minutes. The performers are fairly strong, and the premise is certainly a fascinating one. It will leave you with plenty of ideas about the nature of storytelling—if you can get over the moments when it feels like it’s from the mind of a perpetrator on Law and Order: SVU. TICKETS