The Cornish theater troupe Kneehigh has received very positive reviews for the Off-Broadway stop of its U.S. tour of The Wild Bride, adapted from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Girl Without Hands.” The creative team includes Carl Grose (book, lyrics), Stu Barker (music), Emma Rice (adaptation, direction), Etta Murfitt (choreography), Bill Mitchell (sets), Myriddin Wannell (costumes), Malcolm Rippeth (lights), and Simon Baker (sound). The cast includes Audrey Brisson (Girl), Patrycja Kujawska (Wild), Etta Murfitt (Woman), Stuart Goodwin (Father, Prince), and Andrew Durand (Devil), with Ian Ross and Damon Daunno (Musicians).
Jason Fitzgerald (Back Stage): The plot is an ordeal in which both audience and protagonist are left wondering if the experience is going to be worth it. Spoiler alert: It is. The Wild Bride tells an unflinching story with courage and heart. … Stu Barker’s music is the motor that drives the evening; it’s energetic and never boring. Three actors play the hapless bride, each at a different stage of her life. All are spirited and offer a quiet intensity, but it falls to Patrycja Kujawska to perform the part’s most virtuosic segment, during which she transforms first into a beast and then into a princess. There’s little Kujawska can’t do. … The final moments, deliberately unspectacular, are worth the wait.
Charles Isherwood (N.Y. Times): The chiming words “once upon a time” situate us clearly in the realm of the fairy tale, and yet the happily ever after seems a distant dream in this doggedly grisly story. … Ms. Rice, who adapted the tale, smoothly blends measures of fluid choreography into her storytelling. And she unearths surprising nuggets of humor in a tale that seems to become more absurdly dark as it twists along. … I knew I was supposed to be rooting for Team Good, but it was mighty hard to suppress the desire to see the heroine renegotiate Daddy’s deal with the Devil in her favor. But I suppose it’s not really feasible to live happily ever after in hell.
Zachary Stewart (Theater Mania): Who would have thought that so much ugliness could be delivered so beautifully? … Rice has distilled the best of this mythology into a strong narrative which guides this sharp tale of female empowerment in the face of insurmountable circumstances. … This is theater for the era of globalization, where anyone can meet at a crossroads and all are subject to the devil’s machinations. Which is to say, really, that complaints of stylistic inconsistency have no place in the discussion. Kneehigh has no agenda beyond telling a good story, and they do so again with their colorful, worldly Bride.