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March 7, 2005 | by  | in Theatre |
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Eating the Wolf

Eating the Wolf, Written and Directed by Sarah Delahunty, Red Brick Hall 22 to 26 February

Eating the Wolf is a tongue-in-cheek look at the history of feminism; think of it as the theatrical version of Feminism 101. It is a retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood; Grandma, Mother and Red live in the enchanted forest happily living up to their harsh male-imposed stereotypes. One day Grandma starts to question her lot in life and the cute Little Red Riding Hood (played perfectly by the devilishly sweet Erin Shepherd) is dispatched by her mother, who assumes the poor biddy is no longer right in the head, with cake and custard. She is met by the Wolf who leads her astray into the woods, then finally finds her way back to Grandma’s only to find that, low and behold, Grandma has eaten the Wolf.

The format of Eating the Wolf is simple and effective. Writer and director Sarah Delahunty gently reads the audience the story in a Mother Goose kind of way. The cast then slowly begin to act out scenes from the storybook and as the audience becomes engrossed they take on a life of their own. The play ends in a similar fashion as the characters slowly become stylised works of fiction once again.

Eleanor Bishop makes the most of the many aspects of the Grandma character, compellingly metamorphosing (figuratively and literally) from a domesticated crone to a power-hungry superwoman hell bent on becoming Prime Minister. As Red’s mother, Chelsie Preston Crayford is also convincing as she remains steadfast in her idealised stereotyped role as Red’s domestic goddess mother. Her monologue on motherhood is the emotional high point of the play. One does however wonder where Little Red Riding Hood’s father fits into the picture, he never appears as a character and is seldom mentioned. One must assume that the ambiguity is intentional.

There are also two male characters: The good-hearted but sexually deviant woodcutter, believably played by Jean Sergent, and the devious wolf (Heleyni Pratley) who gets gobbled up only ten minutes into the play. The cast also play a host of peripheral roles that expose the strengths and flaws of different feminist movements of the last fifty years. On their travels, Red and the character formally known as Grandma (she refuses to answer to a label given to her by males) meet Macbeth’s witches, who also come to represent both spurned fairy tale heroines and bitter man-hating first generation feminists like Catharine McKinnon. They also encounter the same characters in modern, materialistic, hyper-successful yet extremely self conscious incarnations idealised in TV programs such as Sex in the City and Ally McBeal.

Eating the Wolf is a raucous ride through the history of feminism and while it pays to have a little background knowledge, it is not absolutely necessary. With regard to the feminist moti,f the script is brilliant because it is fair and unbiased; it unashamedly states that women can do anything but exposes the truth by showing that they cannot do it all at the same time. Although this was a short season, Delahunty’s script is excellent and I would be very pleased if it was reincarnated.

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About the Author ()

HAILING FROM the upper-middle- class hell of Havelock North, Jules is in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in Trenchermanship (majoring in Gourmandry), is a self-professed Anarcho-Dandy and resides in the Aro Valley. He likes to spend his days pursuing whimsical follies of every sort and his evenings gallivanting through the bars and restaurants of Wellington in search of the perfect wine list. He has unfailingly dedicated his life to the excessive consumption of food and drink (despite having no discernable way of paying for it), and expects to die of simultaneous heart and kidney failure at thirty-nine. His only hope is that very soon people will start to pay him for his opinions (of which he is endowed with aplenty). Jules has a penchant for vintage Oloroso.

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