Review: Adventures in Grimmsneyland by Andsoforth
Think you know your fairytales? Think again, as Andsoforth gives you a riotous twist on some classic characters in their latest immersive theatre/dining experience.
Immersive theatre-dining company Andsoforth has a unique formula that works, and it’s only getting better each time. With their latest edition, they’re having audience members hit the books, as they whisk you off to childhood Disney fantasies in Adventures in Grimmsneyland.
But as you might be able to tell from the name, Grimmsneyland isn’t going to be presenting you with your usual princes and princesses of animated cartoons. Instead, creators and producers Stuart Wee and Emily Png have put an adult spin on these characters as they fill you up with a little ‘magic potion’ and take you on a wild ride into lands unknown, from under the sea to a cottage in the woods to have both entertainment and dinner (by Jason Ang and team).
With a total of five rooms each holding different enchanted hosts to introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of Grimmsneyland, it makes perfect sense to begin this odyssey with a trip to the Galaxy Bar. Here, dynamic duo Mirror Mirror (Hafeez Hassan) and the silent Smoke (Chelsea Monteiro) ease audiences into this experience with a couple of shots of ‘magic potion’ (a lethal melon-liquer based cocktail to get you in the mood). Clad in a scintillating face mask and an all white outfit respectively, both characters engage and mingle with the audience at the bar with funky dance moves and good natured group activities, like chaining arms and doing a wave.
With introductions out of the way, audiences then make their way through a rather suggestive looking ‘portal’ into the world of Grimmsneyland proper at last, and literally sliding into the next room. Reliving your childhood is easy here, as you’ll find yourself deep in a pool of balls, while a real life mermaid watches on in glee. Played by Cece Yuan, it turns out she’s a singer with the heart (and voice) of a Southern Belle, cheekily teasing the audience with plenty of sexual innuendo and subverting the original Little Mermaid myth with a good dose of girl power.
Making snide references to the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal and with an ego that fills the entire room, Cece Yuan makes even the most familiar and hackneyed of puns sound funny with her sheer energy and enthusiastic delivery. Here, we were also fed with our first dish of the night – a tasty and thematically appropriate salad consisting of arugula, seaweed and fresh salmon marinated in a special sauce. Considering we just befriended a half-fish half-human, it’s a little paradoxical that we’d be eating one of her fishy friends to start off the night.
Making our way through yet another ‘nether’ world portal, we find ourselves in a completely pink room, decorated with intricate, well-constructed roses all over. At first, it looks empty and devoid of a character, this is, until you hear a voice call down from above. Welcome to the room of Sleeping Beauty, where Aurora (or Light, as her friends prefer to call her) will be your host. Climbing down from a transparent bed, the happy go lucky princess (played by Vivianne Li) shares her fears and desires with the audience, hoping to befriend them after running away from the castle to find her huntsman boyfriend. Vivianne’s innocence displayed here is saccharine sweet and disarmingly charming, and segues perfectly into the next dish of the night – a fried chicken drumstick served with a plate of quinoa sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, lovingly referred to as ‘KFC’.
In the penultimate room of the night, Sebastian Chun really outdid himself with the set design, as we’re led to a realistic looking wooden cottage. Furnished with a long wooden table topped with tartan cloth, with a row of crockery hung on the wall behind, the cottage epitomised ‘home sweet home’. This room’s denizen was none other than Fabrizia, the local Fairy Godmother. Of course, no fairy tale in Grimmsneyland is complete without a twist, and here, we instead got a Fairy Drag Mother. Considering it was his first time in a drag role, Barri Baskoro brought the fierceness dressed in a pink wig and form fitting dress.
Armed with the message that anyone and everyone can be a strong, independent woman, Fabrizia led the audience on a journey of self discovery, as audience members were tasked to find their inner beauty by dressing up and even performing a little catwalk at the end of the ‘competition’. One felt only joy and empowerment as Fabrizia confidently sings about inner strength within us all, even if she (purposely) went hilariously off-key a couple of times. In this room, we were treated to our final savoury meal of the night – a rich broth of dick- sorry, duck stew with a side of crusty bread.
At this point, though nearly at the end, we weren’t quite out of the woods yet, and the next room quite literally led us to a dark forest full of thin trees. Out come three ‘dwarves’ (Norbin Ngoh, Tahir Ansari and Caleb Wong), previously introduced by the princesses as unpleasant exes. But these dwarves will probably subvert your entire image of them, as they’re the furthest thing from little people – instead, you get three hunks sporting six-pack abs and donning kinky neon body harnesses. And these muscles aren’t just for show; each performer is a skilled dancer and know exactly how to work those pole-shaped trees, impressing everyone in the audience with their show of physical control and power.
No dwarf story is complete without a Snow White to head them, and Grimmsneyland’s version features White (Sarah L. Smith) as a shrinking violet, perilously shy and naive to a fault. But give her some music, and she can match these dwarves in skill any day, impressing us just as much as she performed some exhilarating pole numbers together with the dwarves (choreographed by Siti Maznah), drawing sex appeal from the contrast with her ingenue status. Ending off the night on a sweet finish was none other than an apple based dessert, featuring a soft green apple stuffed with nuts and granola, and served with a dollop of vanilla gelato.
Adventures in Grimmsneyland takes Andsoforth’s previous structure and improves on it further, tightening the flow of performances and audience interaction. Production value feels higher than ever before, with vibrant sets and costumes from Sebastian Chun and Riyan Haffys respectively, and performers who are more than able to engage the audience and convince us completely of the existence of this madcap twisted fantasy world. Adventures in Grimmsneyland is pure fun every step of the way, and we’d definitely recommend stepping into this crazy world Andsoforth has crafted for a alterna-Disney night you’ll remember for a long time to come.
Adventures in Grimmsneyland runs from 1st April to 21st April at a secret location. Tickets available from Andsoforth