By Joseph Myers, Staff Writer
Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm are staples of the childhood experience in the Western world, but so many of our experience with these stories are quite far removed from their original source, whether it’s Disney films, pop-up books or the oral tradition of storytelling. A select few fairy tales have persevered to remain relevant in Western culture, although they have been greatly changed from their original form, but the majority of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales did not possess this same longevity. “Little Stories” pays homage to the lesser-known Brothers Grimm tales.
“Little Stories” is an adaptation of six of the Brothers Grimm’s less popular fairy tales, “The Fisherman and His Wife,” “Mother Holle,” “The Stolen Pennies,” “King Thrushbeard,” “How Some Children Played at Slaughtering” and “The Bird Phoenix.” It is performed as six short plays featuring a small cast that was double and triple-cast as multiple characters with Jack Herholdt as The Clown, a silent character that discovers the stories and reacts with the audience, serving as a Greek-chorus-like figure. The minimal set and costume design as well as the use of puppetry perfectly matches the aesthetic of childhood games of make-believe, and creates a fun, whimsical environment.
The entire cast of “Little Stories” was phenomenal at creating and distinguishing each and every character that they portrayed, but two that really stood out were Herholdt and Gretchie Argetsinger. Herholdt’s Clown was so full of energy and passion, despite not having a single spoken line. Each movement, noise or intention was entirely committed and invigorating, which was a treat for the audience. He served as a master of ceremonies, transitioning each short story to the next; as a mime, using the skills of pantomime to make the audience laugh and interacting with audience members in humorous and surprising ways; and as a Greek chorus, giving the audience a baseline reaction to the situation unraveling on stage. The other incredibly noteworthy performer, Argetsinger, has such a stunning mastery on her voice and body–each character that she portrays is so precise and consistent that the audience has a firm understanding of each character that she portrays, even though they only get to spend a few minutes with each one.
“Little Stories” ran as part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival.