Arts & Events

EYE FROM THE AISLE: Give yourself a Holiday Present with THE WILD BRIDE at REP

By John A. McMullen II
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:38:00 AM
Patrycja Kujawska and Stuart Goodwin
Patrycja Kujawska and Stuart Goodwin

If you wanted to tell a fairy tale on stage, what would you dream of? I’d want a bunch of actors all of whom could sing and dance and play instruments with expressive flexibility and astonishing appearances. 

I’d put a leafless Apple Tree in the middle of the stage so that the actors could climb up and sing from the branches. If we’re going to have an Apple Tree, we’d better have the Devil, too, in homage to the first fairy tale. Add a reprobate parent full of loving kindness, but too in love with the moonshine to see the Devil coming. I’d like to have real fire on stage, and maybe an axe like in Little RRH. Three women: a blonde, a brunette and a redhead; let them all play the same maid/nymph/woman. I read the real Brothers Grimm and they were truly gruesome, so let’s have some mayhem, maybe Shakespearean like in Titus.  

Music throughout. My favorite music is ‘30/’40’s Swing, so I’d like a lot of that. Thunder and lighting flashes for punctuation and to scare me a little. How about a talking painting? And sex—make it acrobatic, comic, and really erotic. Wait, one more thing: a diminutive vocalist whose voice is bigger than the house and who reaches down inside your chest and makes it vibrate with her tones. 

Now make it a touching allegory for the healing of childhood wounds. Maybe like Penn State type wounds (I’m an alum, so I can make the simile). One step further: since most old time marchen are paternalistic, let’s make this a feminist fairy tale. 

My after-the-fact dream has all this and more in the American premiere THE WILD BRIDE, a most extraordinary production, just now extended for 3 weeks at our Berkeley Rep. 

Emma Rice is a theatre magician and shaman. A couple of years ago, her Kneehigh Theatre company’s production of Brief Encounter at ACT had people actually boarding a projected passenger train the full size of the Geary proscenium. That tour de force set to English Musical Hall background in a caffe was dreamlike and did on stage what you mainly have to go to the movies to see. But THE WILD BRIDE is simple and theatre of imagination. 

When something has problems, I can go on and on with what’s wrong and what makes it that way. 

When something is this good, I can only say, GO! NOW! 

So give yourself a holiday present, if you can get a ticket, and take someone you love—they will remember your taking them to this when you’re both old, or older. And on your way out, say a little thank you that you live in Berkeley where you can see extraordinary productions like this.


adapted and directed by Emma Rice, text and lyrics by Carl Grose, Music by Stu Barker 

At BERKELEY REP through January 22. 

Etta Murfitt-Choreographer with additional dance Éva Magyar, Bill Mitchell-Scenic Design, Myriddin Wannell- Costume Design, Malcolm Rippeth-Lighting Design, Simon Baker-Sound Design, Paul Crewes-Producer, Sarah Wright, Props / Puppet Maker 


Audrey Brisson, The Girl 

Stuart Goodwin, The Father and The Prince 

Patrycja Kujawska, The Wild 

Éva Magyar, The Woman 

Stuart McLoughlin, The Devil 

Ian Ross, The Musician 

John A. McMullen II, MFA, SFBATCC, ATCA, SDC has lot of letters after his name instead of $ in the bank. 

E J Dunne edits.