I’m a child again he said. I’m staring in wonder at the fairytale world I’m in. Sweeping arches made of stacks of chairs, the cracks in myriad picture frames patched together with surgical stitches. Every stairwell and cranny is given the closest attention.
Across several floors, seven or eight rooms – dank and cold like caves – have been transformed into storybook dwellings. They are more real than film sets. Hundreds and hundreds of lights in every cave glimmer, getting lighter and darker, while a soundtrack of wolf howls and eerie melodies is always present.
I’m in a cluster of other story seekers and we are led into each cave to have a story performed to us. There is no dilution; they are simultaneously acted out and narrated in tact from Philip Pullman’s book. Grimm’s stories are bizarre and grotesque. The good prevail and the evil fail. They’re brutal, and beautiful. They twist into narrative paths that are impossible to predict.
In their beautiful costumes, the actors are our guides and our storytellers and our characters. They run about the caves and dance around ships made of chairs, climb ladders that disappear into the ceiling. They become frogs and princes, witches and statues.
Follow, she said. I did, and like Hansel I lost myself in the woods.