GRIMMS’ JUNIPER TREE weaves in plot points from various famously morose Grimm brothers’ fairy tales around one lesser known story—that of the Juniper Tree. This is the central narrative which moves the story forward, but none of the scenes ever truly succeed in capturing the imagination as the originals did. When Grimm’s “Children’s Tales” were first published, critics judged them as unsuitable for children. JUNIPER TREE, however, suffers from the opposite issue, with material insufficiently fleshed out for an adult audience. Only in the very last scene is a thought-provoking question asked, “When do people decide to become bad?” Instead of examining these classic tales with a new lens, they are retold with only slight twists that don’t seem especially purposeful.
Despite that, the actors were charming and full of energy. Smooth and creative costume and set changes accommodated the many different tales told and provided an appealing visual. The highlights of the evening were the delightful performances of shadow puppetry interspersed throughout—which in fairy tale fashion succeeded in being both endearing and eerie all at once.