Thursday, July 7

Play: Little Red Riding Hood & Hansel and Gretel

This is another very flexible play, as far as concerns numbers. Again, almost all characters can double up, although it was written for a large cast of around 30, and due to the large amount of physical theatre, the bigger the ensemble, the better! Very few props are needed, and no scenery at all. It should last around 20 minutes. This is the second in a series of three fairytale-based short plays.

Narrator 1
Narrator 2
Little Red Riding Hood

Hansel and Gretel's house
ENSEMBLE stand in a half-square facing inwards. HANSEL and GRETEL are DSR, MOTHER and FATHER are USL. NARR.s 1&2 are CS.

NARR. 1: This is a story of trickery and magic...
NARR. 2: And happy endings. For some.

NARR.s split. NARR. 1 goes DSL, NARR. 2 goes DSR.

NARR. 1: There once was a family-
NARR. 2: With no food.
NARR. 1: They had been hit particularly hard by the recession, which meant that they were so poor that one night, the mother turned to the father and said:
MOTHER: We haven't any food.
FATHER: Really? Check the cupboard. I'm sure I saw something around here the other day...

MOTHER checks the cupobard.

MOTHER: It's empty.
FATHER: Oh. That's odd. Um. So... Now what do we do?
MOTHER: We have enough bread for us all tomorrow, but that's it. If we keep going like this, we'll all starve.
NARR. 1: And so she came up with a plan...
NARR. 2: A dastardly plan.
MOTHER: Tomorrow, we take the children out into the woods.
FATHER: Oh yes, good idea - we can have a picnic!
MOTHER: (deadpan) No. We leave them there to die.

HANSEL and GRETEL start listening in from DSR.

MOTHER: It's them or us.
FATHER: But they're my kids!
MOTHER: (aside) Yeah, well, they're not  my real kids. (to FATHER) They might be okay... But if we all stay together you can be sure that we will all die. We might as well save some of us.
NARR. 1: The father was a little bit useless and cowardly-
NARR. 2: So he gave in.
NARR. 1: Without a huge amount of encouragement, I might add.
MOTHER: Let's not tell the kids, okay? We don't want to spoil our last evening all together... We'll explain in the morning.


NARR. 1: This plan might have worked-
NARR. 2: Had Hansel and Gretel not been listening in.
NARR. 1: And so, in fact, they knew their stepmother's whole plan.
GRETEL: Oh no! Hansel, what are we going to do? I can't believe our father just said yes...
HANSEL: It's awful! It's terrible! It's horrendous! It's-
GRETEL: Hansel. Please. Get a grip.
HANSEL: Okay...
GRETEL: So what are we going to do?
HANSEL: Um... Don't worry. I'll come up with something.
NARR. 1: Okay, so we'll leave Hansel to puzzle out an idea between (checks watch) now and tomorrow morning. That means you've got about eight hours, Hansel.
NARR. 2: Think quickly.
HANSEL: Ok, will do.


the wood
ENSEMBLE move so they are dotted around the stage in tree positions. RED RIDING HOOD enters SL.

NARR. 1: Eight hours later.
HANSEL: (from offstage) Hey, wait! No fair! That so wasn't eight hours!
NARR. 2: Well, we got bored of waiting.
NARR. 1: The next morning, a little girl was walking through the forest.
NARR. 2: Her name was Little Red Riding Hood.
NARR. 1: You may think you know her story.
NARR. 2: You don't.
NARR. 1: And if you did, you probably wouldn't need us, would you?  So it's comforting to us to know that you don't.
NARR. 2: Yeah.
NARR. 1: Anyway. Little Red Riding Hood lived in a cottage with her mother. And every day, she would pack a basket full of lovely food and go through the woods to visit her grandmother, who was in bed and an invalid.
NARR. 2: And lazy. But not many people like to mention that bit.
NARR. 1: Yeah. That too. So Red Riding Hood went off to visit her grandmother, with a basket full of food - cakes and biscuits and little jellies and ice cream and apples and olives and-
NARR. 2: (Red Riding Hood's mother evidently wasn't experiencing quite the same financial crisis that had hit the Hansel and Gretel household.)
NARR. 1: Okay. So Red Riding Hood's off through the forest, yippee, let's go back and see how Hansel and Gretel are fairing. Agreed?
NARR. 2: All this juggling is starting to confuse me...


the forest
Nothing changes from the previous scene. Enter MOTHER, FATHER, HANSEL and GRETEL SR.

MOTHER: Come on, you lot, we're just off for a nice family walk in the forest. Aren't we?

Digs FATHER in the ribs.

FATHER: (unconvincingly) Oh yes, a lovely little family walk, all together, all very nice, very nice indeed...
MOTHER: (aside) Honestly.
NARR. 1: So here they are, strolling through the forest. And Hansel - did you get an idea last night?
HANSEL: Umm... Not really... No...
GRETEL: (aside) Honestly.
MOTHER: (handing some bread to HANSEL) Here, eat something, my lovely little boy.

NARR. 1 motions to HANSEL to drop some breadcrumbs. HANSEL doesn't get it. NARR. 1 creeps up to HANSEL.

NARR. 1: (stage whisper) Drop some breadcrumbs! Then you'll be able to follow them when they leave you alone in the forest.
HANSEL: (stage whisper) Good idea.

NARR. 1 returns DSR. HANSEL starts dropping breadcrumbs. Enter RED RIDING HOOD SR. She sees the breadcrumbs and begins to pick them up and eat them. Neither HANSEL nor GRETEL notices.

NARR. 1: Eventually, they reached the very heart of the forest, and it began to get dark.

They stop CS. Exit RED RIDING HOOD SL.

MOTHER: You two stay here, my lovelies, while your father and I go and find some firewood. Okay? (to FATHER, in a stagewhisper) Come on, come on! (chivvies him offstage SL)
NARR. 1: So off they went, telling the children they'd be back soon.
MOTHER: (from offstage) Back soon!
NARR. 2: But it was a lie!
NARR. 1: And so Hansel and Gretel were left all alone in the forest. 
NARR. 2: Because it was beginning to get dark, Hansel told his sister that they'd better wait out the night, so they could see the breadcrumbs in the morning.
HANSEL: We'd better wait out the night, so we can see the breadcrumbs in the morning. 'Kay?

HANSEL and GRETEL sleep.

NARR. 1: But in the morning, when they awoke...

HANSEL and GRETEL wake up and start looking around for the breadcrumbs.

NARR. 2: They couldn't find the breadcrumbs anywhere!
GRETEL: Where have they gone? You told me you had a plan!
HANSEL: Don't blame me, it was his idea! (points at NARR. 1)
NARR. 1: Hey, don't go passing the blame around - I only gave you the idea because you couldn't come up with one on your own!
NARR. 2: Okay, break it up! Let's not argue with the characters, okay? The bottom line is, the crumbs are gone. They've been eaten by a terrible... BEAST.

On 'beast', RED RIDING HOOD skips from SL to SR.

NARR. 2: In a red coat.
NARR. 1: Talking of beasts in red coats...

the forest
HANSEL and GRETEL exit SR. ENSEMBLE are still dotted around the stage in tree positions, except now they make two distinct paths starting CS and ending SL and SR respectively. RED RIDING HOOD enters SL.

NARR. 1: We left Little Red Riding Hood walking through the forest yesterday morning to take a basket of food to her elderly grandmother.
NARR. 2: And this morning... She's still walking through the forest to take a basket of food to her elderly grandmother.
NARR. 1: She must be a really slow walker.
NARR. 2: Really slow.
NARR. 1: But then she reached a cross in the roads.


RED RIDING HOOD: Oh no... I can't seem to remember which way I should go...
NARR. 2: Despite having walked to her grandmother's every day.
NARR. 1: So she's both a slow walker and has short term memory loss. Great.
NARR. 2: But then, luckily, a random wolf came strolling through the forest.

Enter WOLF SL.

WOLF: My my, what is a pretty thing like you doing all alone in the forest?
RED RIDING HOOD: Oh, I was just going to visit my grandmother, who's sick in bed. But I can't seem to remember which path I should take...
NARR. 1: Luckily, this wolf knew the forest very well.
WOLF: Luckily, I know the forest very well. And I'm sure that you should take the left path. It's a shortcut.
NARR. 2: (to NARR. 1) No it's not! What's he doing? (NARR. 1 shrugs)
RED RIDING HOOD: Oh, thank you so much! Well, I'll see you later, then.

RED RIDING HOOD walks along the stage right (audience left) path and exits SR.

WOLF: Ha ha ha! Little does she know that in fact she should have taken the right path! Now I can get to her grandmother's house first!

He runs along the stage left (audience right) path and exits SL.

NARR. 2: Is it just me, or is he incredibly irritating?

the forest & the outside of the witch's house
ENSEMBLE move back to their randomly dotted tree positions (like Scene Three). HANSEL and GRETEL enter SR. They slowly walk SL as the NARR.s talk. The trees behind them 'shuffle' SR as they do so.

NARR. 1: In another part of the forest, Hansel and Gretel were wandering around aimlessly, hoping to find their home.
NARR. 2: Because, if you remember, all their breadcrumbs had been eaten by someone in a red hood... Naming no names, of course.
NARR. 1: Well. Yes. Anyway. There they were, walking along. 
NARR. 2: When they came across a little house in a clearing.

HANSEL and GRETEL stop SL. ENSEMBLE stop shuffling and quickly make a house shape.

NARR. 1: Made entirely of gingerbread and sweeties.
GRETEL: Hansel, look!
NARR. 2: They were so hungry that they began to eat it.
HANSEL: Come on, let's eat!

They begin to eat the house. As they do so, the people being 'eaten' slouch slightly.

NARR. 2: But they hadn't taken into account the owner of the house.

WITCH enters through the house suddenly.

WITCH: Who's been eating my house?! No, wait...
GRETEL: I'm so sorry!
HANSEL: We had no idea...
GRETEL: I mean, we...
HANSEL: We were so hungry-
GRETEL: We haven't eaten for ages, you see...
WITCH: Oh, my poor dears! Of course you must have something to eat - look how skinny you are!
NARR. 1: The children couldn't believe their luck.
NARR. 2: Of course, it wasn't really luck.
NARR. 1: On account of the fact that this seemingly kindly old woman-
NARR. 2: Was in fact a witch.
NARR. 1: And an evil one to boot.
NARR. 2: Aren't they all?
NARR. 1: Good point.

Grandma's house
ENSEMBLE stand in the same positions as Scene One. GRANDMA is sitting CS facing the audience.

NARR. 1: In another part of the forest, Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother was eagerly awaiting a visit from her granddaughter. 
NARR. 2: Who was even later now because she'd forgotten which way to go and managed to be directed the wrong way by a passing wolf.
GRANDMA: Where can that girl have got to?
NARR. 1: But then the wolf, having taken a short cut, arrived at Grandma's house...

WOLF enters SR.

GRANDMA: Red? Red, is that you?
NARR. 1: (aside) She was very shortsighted.
WOLF: (in a squeaky voice) Oh, hello, Grandma. I've got some food for you here in my basket.
GRANDMA: Oh, thank you my dear.

WOLF comes around the side of GRANDMA, who recognises him.

GRANDMA: Why, you're not Red Riding Hood at all - you're a dirty great wolf! What are you doing in my house?
WOLF: I'm here to eat you, Grandma.
NARR. 2: He did.

WOLF eats GRANDMA: ENSEMBLE rushes inwards to create a tight circle around WOLF and GRANDMA. GRANDMA screams, WOLF makes general eating noises (these could possibly be sound effects).

NARR. 2: And so that was the end of Grandma.

inside the witch's house
ENSEMBLE stand in a half-square with SAM and JAMES CS making the oven, and HARVEY and DAN SL making the cage. GRANDMA joins the ENSEMBLE. HANSEL is inside the cage, GRETEL is sweeping, and WITCH is generally being horrible to both of them

NARR. 1: Back at the witch's house-
NARR. 2: Hansel and Gretel had finally realised that this woman-
NARR. 1: Who had seemed so kindly-
NARR. 2: Was in fact up to no good.
NARR. 1: They took their time.
NARR. 2: You're telling me.
WITCH: Sweep faster, you lazy girl!
GRETEL: I'm sweeping as fast as I can.
WITCH: Well, that's not fast enough, is it?
NARR. 1: Anyway. The witch kept the children there for three days-
NARR. 2: And every day, the witch would send Gretel to feed her brother-
NARR. 1: Because the witch wanted to fatten Hansel up-
NARR. 2: And eat him.
NARR. 1: Just so. But luckily, on the fourth day, Gretel realised what was going on-
NARR. 2: And came up with a cunning plan.

GRETEL walks over to the cage with some food, which she gives to HANSEL.

GRETEL: (in a stage whisper) Use this chicken bone - pretend it's your finger.

GRETEL walks back SR and starts sweeping up again. WITCH goes over to HANSEL. GRETEL watches.

WITCH: Stick your finger out of the cage so I can see how fat you are.
NARR. 1: But Hansel didn't stick his finger out - instead, he used the chicken bone his sister had given him.

HANSEL sticks the chicken bone out of the cage.

NARR. 1: And so when the witch felt it, she thought he was very thin - far too thin to eat.
NARR. 2: (aside) She was shortsighted as well.
NARR. 1: In fact, I think she was practically blind.
NARR. 2: Well, you'd have to be, to think a chicken bone was actually a finger.
NARR. 1: Exactly. Er - anyway.
WITCH: Dammit - you're still far too thin to eat.
HANSEL & GRETEL: (aside) Phew!

While the NARR.s speak, WITCH turns and gesticulates to GRETEL, occasionally turning to HANSEL and doing the same.

NARR. 1: And so it went on. But on the fifth day-
NARR. 2: The witch lost all patience.
WITCH: I've lost all patience with you people. I'm going to eat you now.

WITCH starts towards HANSEL.

GRETEL: No! Please don't eat my brother!
WITCH: Stupid girl! Go get the oven ready.

GRETEL goes to get the oven ready while WITCH unlocks HANSEL's cage. She drags him to the oven.

WITCH: Well? Come on, girl, I haven't got all day. I'm starving!

GRETEL flounders.

WITCH: Hurry up! Test the temperature, will you.
GRETEL: What? I don't understand...
WITCH: (impatiently, letting go of HANSEL) Urgh, I'll show you then.

WITCH leans over into the oven.

WITCH: See? It's really very simple.

HANSEL and GRETEL push WITCH into the oven. She screams and burns. And dies. Obviously.

NARR. 2: And so that was the end of the witch. 
NARR. 1: It's all getting a little dramatic...
NARR. 2: Indeed.

Grandma's house
ENSEMBLE are in the same positions as Scene Six. WOLF, posing as Grandma, is sitting CS with his back to the audience.

NARR. 1: Back at Grandma's house-
NARR. 2: Well, the house that was Grandma's house when she was alive-
NARR. 1: But isn't now-
NARR. 2: On account of her being eaten.
NARR. 1: Well, I'm sure it still counts as her house, even if she's eaten.
NARR. 2: Maybe.
NARR. 1: Well. The house that may or may not count as Grandma's house any more, but certainly was her house when she was alive.
NARR. 2: That's the one.
NARR. 1: The wolf-
NARR. 2: Having eaten Grandma-
NARR. 1: Was lying in wait for Little Red Riding Hood-
NARR. 2: So he could eat her too.
NARR. 1: Ah, here she comes.


RED RIDING HOOD: Hello, Grandma, I'm here at last! Sorry I'm so late - a guy in the woods gave me rubbish directions...
WOLF: (in a high, wavering voice) Come closer to me, my dear. I want to see you.

RED RIDING HOOD goes closer to WOLF.

RED RIDING HOOD: My, what big ears you have! Is that a normal symptom of 'flu?
WOLF: Ah, they're all the better to hear you with, my dear.
RED RIDING HOOD: And what big eyes you have! You might want to see the doctor about that...
WOLF: All the better to see you with, my dear.
RED RIDING HOOD: And what big teeth you have! I-
WOLF: (interrupting her and leaping up) All the better to eat you with!

WOLF eats RED RIDING HOOD. ENSEMBLE crowds in like they did for GRANDMA, and there are eating sounds and screams. ENSEMBLE crouches down around WOLF.

NARR. 1: Wow, what a meal! He must've been so full.
NARR. 2: Yes, and that wasn't so good for him.
NARR. 1: How do you mean?
NARR. 2: Watch and see. (to the audience) Wolf had Grandma and Red Riding Hood so quickly that they were, in fact, still alive in his belly.
NARR. 1: Oh, I love this bit!
NARR. 2: And so they began to move around...

GRANDMA and RED RIDING HOOD, who are crouched behind WOLF, start to stick their arms out between the ENSEMBLE members.

NARR. 2: More...

The movement gets more urgent.

NARR. 2: And more... 

And again.

NARR. 2: And more, until finally...

ENSEMBLE stands up, WOLF howls, there is a huge ripping sound.

NARR. 2: The wolf was ripped in two.

ENSEMBLE suddenly crouch again, WOLF does too. As NARR. 1 speaks, RED RIDING HOOD and GRANDMA step out from among the ENSEMBLE and exit SL.

NARR. 1: And so Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother stepped out of the wolf's skin.
NARR. 2: (sullenly) And lived happily ever after, no doubt.
NARR. 1: Well... Yes...
NARR. 2: I knew it.

the forest
ENSEMBLE are in their randomly dotted tree positions, like Scene Two, except they are all SR. DUCK is CS in a 'river'. HANSEL and GRETEL enter SR.

NARR. 1: In the woods
NARR. 2: Still.
NARR. 1: Hansel and Gretel were running home from the evil old witch's house, where, on a search for food, they had found a huge chest full of gold and silver and jewels.
NARR. 2: Conveniently.
NARR. 1: But, because they didn't have their breadcrumb trail, they were still very lost.
NARR. 2: Eventually, they came to a river.


GRETEL: Oh look, a duck.
HANSEL: I wonder if he knows the way home?

NARR. 1: And so they asked the duck to take them home.
HANSEL: Please, Mr Duck, could you take us home?

DUCK quacks.

GRETEL: I think that means yes...
NARR. 2: And so they climbed on the duck's back.

HANSEL and GRETEL stand behind DUCK, and they start walking SL. As they do so, the trees SR shuffle offstage and FATHER shuffles on SL.

NARR. 1: Luckily, the duck knew the way home-
NARR. 2: And so Hansel and Gretel were home in no time.

DUCK exits SR.

FATHER: My children!

They run CS and embrace.

HANSEL: Where's our stepmother?
FATHER: Oh, I dealt with her.
GRETEL: Father, look what we found!

They show him the jewels.

FATHER: Incredible!
NARR. 1: And so they lived happily ever after, too.
NARR. 2: I think everyone does. Except maybe the duck.
NARR. 1: Yeah, I don't know what happened to him...

Exeunt omnes.


Spook said...

Haha, oh I LOVE your narrators! They're absolutely hilarious! And the fourth-wall breakage when arguing with Hansel had me rolling on the floor xD

Westrina said...

Hehe, glad you like them! They were incredibly fun to write, I must admit... =] I can't wait to see it being performed! Exciting times =]

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