There is nothing more thrilling than seeing theatre through a child’s eyes and Cahoots NI are one of the best at interactive theatre for kids. This week I brought my nephews to check in to their latest creation The Grimm Hotel. From the moment we stepped inside and met the bell boys my nephews and I were engaged and part of the show.
The Grimm Hotel is based in a studio at the back of the City Side shopping centre at York Gate Belfast and as we are checked in by the friendly concierge and guided by the helpful bellboys there is a fizz of anticipation in the air. Once we walk through the door of the Grimm Hotel my nephew’s naive wonderment is engaged and as we walk down the long winding corridors appropriately dressed as somewhat creepy hotel corridors their faces become a little nervous and apprehensive as we are unaware of what was going to happen.
The Concierge played by Caolan McBride meets us in the foyer of the hotel and tells us about the adventure we are about to undertake but how our path has been written, with a bit of a sinister laugh and a mischievous glint his wooden companion in the room chooses one of the tour party who will be first to choose our route and our first room. The poor arts correspondent for the Ulster Tatler; Kellie Burch gets the task.
I’m being very careful here not to give too much away as this production very much relies on the unknown, the suspense and the fun of what’s to come after all this is a Halloween production. However Caolan plays the part perfectly balancing the fun spirit guide with the creepy devilment which is needed in this character.
Onwards we travel until we meet Henrik Boss the proprietor of the hotel (played by Sean Kearns) he pops up out of nowhere tells us a little more about the hotel and also gives us a tip to keep an eye out for him on our journey (he reappears as a very unfortunate character later in the show.) Again Kearns plays to the audience and our boys who are now a little nervous of what’s to come are wide-eyed and excited. The fabulous set and lighting plays into all of this with low lighting, black spots and flickering candles and we are off on our journey.
We are told their are 210 rooms and each room represents a Grimm tale, how we proceed through the rooms is entirely up to us but with choices made by the audience it all feels very fluid and magical. Again I’m not going to tell you the tales you encounter but they are all true to the Grimm text. I’ll let the images below paint the picture as I don’t want to spoil the fun but look out for some hair raising monologues, fantastic special effects, slight of hand, choreography, beautiful costumes, a gorgeous jazz number in a glitter-balled bar and an adventure like no other.
My nephews adored every moment and actually want to go back and see the other rooms, it’s hard to create that magic in a nine year old and for a first year. I had thought there sense of wonderment had been replaced by video games. We had such a fun night and the boys are still discussing what happened and how heroic they were. The anticipation, excitement and joy on their faces throughout the night made it for me! The Magic of live theatre is live and kicking in the walls of Cityside who knew!
Overall a beautiful interactive retelling of some dark tales, where you become the hero of your own fairytale. Add in a pinch of darkness, some special effects and a fantastic cast and the fairytale becomes very real! Well done to Bosco and Co on the perfect Halloween treat. Now any chance you could build an extension on to that hotel? I’m sure you would get repeat bookings.
Emer D xx
You can find out more and Book your tickets to The Grimm Hotel here.