This loose retelling of Little Red Riding Hood begins long before we even enter the theatre. The delightfully charming Joe meets us in the bar, distributing black dustbin liners – it all makes sense later – while nattering away to us all the time. And as we take our seats, Grandma, aka Miss Croydon 1938, is amongst us offering polo mints, causing havoc with her three-wheeled Zimmer frame.
We meet the family within Grandma's tightly-run drugs den. There’s a grandson, Wolfy, and the downtrodden Cinderella-esque Luna – who is secretly harbouring vengeful thoughts, as she was sold to Grandma by her real parents for a price. The company multi-task, playing more than one character each, and throw themselves zealously into everything they do.
There are heaps of sexual innuendo involving pretty much all of the characters, with some lines more explicit than others. Mella Faye plays Grandma with obvious relish, creating an over-bearing, slightly malicious, manipulative character. Her asides to the audience are often hilarious, as is her uncomfortable sexual attraction to her grandson; she revels in the outrageousness of it all.
As the grandson, Oliver Harrison in turn superbly captures a persona that’s awkward, sexually-frustrated, and desperate to please. As long as he was on stage, hardly a moment went by when I didn't find myself smiling. Carla Epinoza, playing Luna, seems to have a rubber face, pulling some of the most astounding expressions – and she also has the most unique way of polishing a laptop screen I have ever seen.
And then there’s the over-exaggerated, hard-nut, lesbian police officer. It is impossible to take Katie Grace Cooper’s character seriously; it’s all very tongue in cheek, with lots of humour all around her. Cooper also provided my favourite laugh-out-loud image, as she transformed from dowdy cop into the sexy and leggy Red, tottering on the highest of red heels. She actually seemed to fall off them at one point, and handled the moment brilliantly.
There was one sobering scene involving tablets where I felt the mood of the audience shift slightly, but the cast didn't allow us to stay there very long, and soon we were back to the silliness. The audience interaction comes thick and fast, but I appreciated how skilfully the cast manage the margin between invading our space and knowing when to stop; nobody is forced to do anything they might not want to do. The catchy company chorus of the “Class A Jingle” was so good that I wanted to hear it again, and the music by Grandma's husband Derek (Alex Stanford) always added to the action.
There is, predictably, both carnage and chaos by the final curtain. For the whole performance, the cast seek to shock and humour the audience in equal measure. At times their utter impropriety is astounding. For me it had reminiscences of the TV series “Shameless” – but with far less subtlety.
Irreverent, silly, naughty and daring, this production is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended. And it certainly wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. But I left still smiling and laughing to myself at the things I had just witnessed... so Grandma and the rest of her crew must have got something right.