Briar Rose & the Thirteenth Fairy, by playwright Caroline Angell is a modern adaptation of the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Masterfully staged by Anais Koivisto, this adaptation asks the question that parents throughout the ages have tried to answer: How do you protect the innocence of your children in a world where evil is ever present? The story weaves together the storytelling narratives of Perrault, Walt Disney and The Brother’s Grimm.
Deep in childhood an event occurs that affects the Thirteenth Fairy and helps to define who she will become. Thrown out of the kingdom because the royal household has only twelve golden plates appropriate for fairies, she becomes an instigator and enforcer of evil events. When the Queen gives birth to a daughter, the Fairy puts a curse on her: When the princess becomes of age she will prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for one-hundred years. For the spell to be lifted she must be kissed by a prince. Her parents, the King and Queen, spend the entire first act protecting their daughter by preventing her from encountering a spindle. Typical of most adolescents, the princess rebels by making a journey to find a spindle. Inevitably she finds a spindle, pricks her finger and falls asleep. While she is asleep a prince finds her, is struck by her beauty and impregnates her with a child. Skip ahead one hundred years, she wakes by giving birth and is now a mother and wife. In the second act her priority is to catch up with the modern world. Shocked into adulthood she asks, what else didn’t my parents tell me?
This fractured fairy tale is expertly acted by an ensemble of young, vibrant, performers who effortlessly portray multiple characters. Leslie Gauthier’s excellent, multi-layered portray of Briar Rose leads a cast that includes Elise Arndt, Kathryn Connors, Augustin J. Correro, Peregrine Heard, Jonathan Hendrickson, Hank Lin, Mia Rohrer, and Benjamin Drew Thompson. I especially enjoyed the performances of Paul Gregg as the Horse and Lindsay Cook as the seductive, evil, Thirteenth Fairy
Anais Koivisto’s unified production did an excellent job of using the entire space in her staging. The actors entered from the house as well as the stage. A ramp from the stage to a long strip of floor where the audience was seated on both sides as in a stadium or fashion show enabled us to get a close-up look at the action and made us feel as if we were sitting in the enchanted forest. Often the Evil Fairy entered from the back of the house and climbed on platforms to entice her tribe of followers.
This is the first full length production of Everyday Inferno Theatre Company and the design elements were stunning. The use of the beautiful, detailed shadow art design by Derek Schumacher projected on a big round screen at center stage created the many locations required to depict this story. Lighting design by Carla Linton was gorgeous and added a whole other dimension to the show.
Expertly produced by Katherine Sommer, Briar Rose and the Thirteenth Fairy was a very old story for an audience of all ages. I am looking forward to the next production of this new and vibrant indie theater company.