Once Upon a Nightmare (3 stars)

This article is from 2014.

Once Upon a Nightmare

Dynamic adventure play in need of streamlining at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Although there is much to enjoy in this fantasy adventure from Box Step Productions, including some fine performances, there is one overriding problem with Once Upon a Nightmare – it wants to be a film.

It came as no surprise to discover, after seeing the show, that Box Step also has a film wing, because the company obviously has a real eye for what works on-screen. But switching between worlds via a portal, and jumping frantically from scene to scene, is less suited to the theatrical stage.

That said, the story itself provides lots of opportunities for humour, and to a lesser extent, drama – both of which are well milked.

Having been separated from her brother in the magical dream world, Somnia, Sophie spends the next 20 years in a mental hospital, trying to convince Dr Malpractice she didn’t dream the whole thing.

Finally able to go back and rescue her long lost sibling, Sophie encounters a new set of problems to solve, involving more entrances and exits than a French farce.

There are nods to several fantasy films here, and a few actual characters from classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. Throw in a couple of musical numbers and it all makes for a very, full hour.

But there’s something slightly disingenuous about writing ‘Free Entry!’ in uppercase letters on your flyer, and then suggesting punters donate £10 each on the way out. Somewhere along the line, the ‘give what you can’ ethos of the Free Fringe has been lost – and having seen better shows, in paid venues, charging less than £10 a ticket, Box Step left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Counting House, until 24 Aug, 12.15pm, free.

Once Upon a Nightmare

  • 3 stars

Box Step Productions is formed by identical twins Michael and Paul Clarkson and the genetically unrelated Gemma Hurley in 2012. Their theatrical debut – Death Ship 666! – attracted sell-out audiences and glowing reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe, before transferring to the Leicester Square Theatre in 2013. This…

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