Thursday, December 27, 2012

CDXXX - Hansel & Gretel, The Remake.

And now, in the spirit of Christmas pantomimes, I give you —

Hansel & Gretel – The Remake
A Cautionary Tale

— CAST —

The Father, a woodcutter
The Step-Mother, standard issue, nasty, 36D.
Hansel, the son; clean-cut, shorts and braces type.
Gretel, the daughter; flaxen-haired, pig-tails, gingham dress-type.
Witch, standard issue, average wickedness rating.
Social Worker, keen, earnest, carrying a clipboard.
White Swan, token addition, to appease the Audubon Society.
A Wolf, an accidental inclusion, an innocent bystander.
Constable, on sabbatical from Midsomer.
The Forest Chorale – three finches, a duck, a badger and two rats.


The Forest Chorale
Our story’s set on the edge of a wood
A woodcutter lives there, as a woodcutter should.
He has a woman, the love of his life
And two young kids from a previous wife.
He cannot see that wife number two
Is a mean and nasty, scheming shrew;
Blinded by her two well-rounded breasts
He meekly agrees to all requests —
So besotted is he by her feminine charms
He’d crawl over coals, with broken arms.

Step Mother:
We need to be prudent, our money’s dwindling,
And you earn such a pittance from chopping kindling.
The kids are the problem, the kids are a pain,
Food is scarce and the kids are a drain.
If you really loved me, as you swear,
You’d take the children out of my hair!
Times are tough, we are pretty poor,
And there’s a hungry wolf scratching at the door.

Not me, I promise, I’m elsewhere in the wood
With my eyes on a little girl who wears a red hood.

But they are my children, what can I do?
I love them dearly, just like you!

Step Mother
Well, if you’re too weak and too lightweight
Let Mother Nature decide their fate:
Take them to the woods and leave them there.
They can stay if they return.  Does that sound fair?

The Forest Chorale
In the next room, with his ear to the wall
Hansel was shocked and gave Gretel a call:

I’ll go out and collect some small white stones;
Dropped as we go, they’ll guide us home.

The Forest Chorale
So Hansel slipped out through the door
And looked for stones on the forest floor.
He filled his pockets with small white rocks
A couple of spare were stuffed down his socks.
The next day the father suggested a walk:

Come!  The woods are a great place for a talk!

The Forest Chorale
Hansel dropped stones as the trio progressed
Their father, he noticed, was quite depressed
But he’d promised his wife to deliver the goods
And the children were left out in the woods.
In normal events they would surely die
But the moon was full and high in the sky
And on the path the stones showed bright
And guided them home, though the night.
Much later on, at about half past four
They loudly knocked on their parents door.

Mother! Father! Open up the door!
We don’t want to sleep on the forest floor!
Aren’t you glad that we’re not lost?
Father — where you went to has got us tossed!

It’s (ah) a long story. We’ll save it for another day
Suffice to say we just parted ways.

Step Mother (to children)
Oh. I. am. so. very. happy. to. see. you. back.
Now, to your room and hit the sack.

Step Mother ( to woodcutter)
You hopeless clot.  Can you do nothing right?
I will take them out myself, once it’s light.
Must I do my work and do yours too?
Look at my eyes when I’m talking to you!

The Forest Chorale
Once more the children heard them scheme
As they lay in bed pretending to dream.
But they couldn’t get any stones as before
As the mother had firmly locked the door.
Next day the mother packed a lunch
And put brandy in the drinks, for added punch.

Step Mother
Come, we are going to learn bush lore
So you can’t get lost as you did before.

The Forest Chorale
Hansel, in place of stones, took some bread
And left a trail of crumbs behind him instead.
Far out in the woods, where few people pass
The mother pointed to a patch of grass:

Step Mother
Come, this looks like a good place to sit
You can eat your lunch and rest a bit.

The Forest Chorale
A parenting tip, naughty but handy:
Children sleep well if dosed up with brandy.
When they awoke it was cold and dark
Their mother, it seemed, had left the park.
They looked for the crumbs to guide their trekking
But it seems the birds had done some pecking.
They wandered along until the forest cleared
And a vision of loveliness suddenly appeared.
A gingerbread cottage, all candy and cream:
A dietician’s nightmare but a young child’s dream.
As they pulled off tiles, intending to eat them
A wizened old lady came out to greet them.

Be careful now, you’ll make yourself sick!
The Heart Foundation declined me a ‘tick’.
But take your time, there’s plenty to explore:
My personal favourite is the caramel door.

The Forest Chorale
The old lady seemed so nice and so sweet
And Hansel and Gretel were desperate to eat.
They never thought that she could be a creep
When they lay down and drifted to sleep.
But when they awoke from their slumbering plains
Hansel was caged and Gretel in chains.

Social Worker
Don’t be harsh.  Don’t judge her quickly;
She was beaten as a child and was quite sickly.
She was also traumatised, by my case log
When a prince she kissed became a frog.

The Forest Chorale
A sad tale, one to produce copious tears,
But it did nothing to allay the children’s fears.
They cried and yelled to be set free
But it soon became clear that it was not to be.

Social Worker
I’d love to help, I can feel your pain,
But my budget has been cut again.

Young lady, to stop your brother’s squeals,
You’ll clean my house and cook my meals.
You’re brother’s caged, but worry not,
I’ll feed him well with all I’ve got.
I want to put some more meat on him
I’ll release him when he’s not so slim.

The Forest Chorale
Gentle reader, you can guess the plot:
Young Hansel’s destined for the cooking pot.
Every day the witch comes checks his state,
In order to guess her dinner date.

Show me your finger, you little brat!
I need to know when you are good and fat!

The Forest Chorale
Hansel knew that the witch’s sight
Was quite poor in the dappled light
So he offered her an old bone to feel
Left-overs, we fear, from a previous meal.

Your fingers boney, I’ve seen fatter germs!
There’s no meat at all, have you got worms?
Your sister’s fatter, I’ll eat her instead
And mop up the juices with some gingerbread.
There no feasting in your meager serve
But perhaps I can use you as hors d'œuvre.

The Forest Chorale
Now, Gretel saw this show unfold
And quickly guessed what her future would hold.
When the witch asked for the oven prepared
Gretel feigned ignorance and said she was scared.

Silly girl, you’ve done it before…

I’ve forgotten. Show me how to open the door…

The Forest Chorale
The witch opened the oven by loosening a nut.
Gretel pushed her in and slammed it shut.
Howls of pain echoed through the air
As the witch was roasted, medium-rare.
Gretel then took the keys down from the shelf
And unchained her brother, as well as herself.

Social Worker
Oh! Well, I’m pretty sure she wont be missed
And it does free up my client list!
Now that the poor old witch has gone
I’m happy to take your cases on.

We appreciate your concern, somewhat belated
But it appears our problems have rather abated.

The Forest Chorale
They then searched the house, at their leisure,
And found a vase that was full of treasure.
They stuffed their pockets as best they could
And headed off to escape the wood.

Gretel!  Look a lovely white swan!
Let’s catch it back to where we’re from!

The Forest Chorale
Gentle reader, I have no choice, of course,
As the swan is in my reference source.
But you can’t demand logic or bemoan absence of nous
After accepting the idea of a gingerbread house.
And so the swan carried them over the water
To reunite father and son and daughter.

Father, our step mother was so cruel and mean,
Where is the old bag of hate and spleen?

The Forest Chorale
The father said, vaguely, that he hadn’t seen her
But a part of his lawn was noticeably greener.

Father!  Look! We have jewels and gold!
Never again will we be hungry and cold!

The Forest Chorale
Where the witch had got them was unexplained
But fair to say she wouldn’t want them again.
As they spread the treasure out on the floor
There was a sharp knocking at the door…

Good evening, Sir.  Could I have a word?
It seems a heinous crime’s occurred.
And do not think that you can run and hide —
The Murdoch press is camped outside.



© J Cosmo Newbery 2012

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  1. Shouldn't someone be shouting "Look behind you?"

  2. Everything is great, except the Muroch media.

    "Grrrr," said the Bear. And "Grrrr" again!

    The reporters and photographers dashed off, leaving their cameras and notepads.

    Peace and tranquility returned — and the family cut the Constable in for a share.

    — The end —

    1. Ah, Bear, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to portray the media in its true form.

  3. Ha ..very clever... Cosmo wizwazzerie a la grecque at its best!
    A small criticism -Bias towards the social worker and police.
    The social worker was credited with too much intelligence and there is always at least one shooting by the Victorian police when approaching suspects.

    1. Careful - my Dad was in the force, albeit briefly. For some reason he got sick of attending road accidents, suicides and domestic violence. It's not all fun. And, with badgers in the chorale, it may not have been in Victoria at all. Ducks, btw, have a surprisingly good baratone voice. Think Paul Robeson.

      And social workers? Well, there are bad ones and a good one.

      Briefly considered a door-knock visit by some Mormons but had to control the size. The sequel, perhaps?

    2. I know a good social worker who is also a fine voiced duck ( blue not black).

      No offense meant to your father. Will avoid all jokes about lab rats, police, vicars and Victoria in the future.

    3. Didn't take it as offence - just letting you know where the quicksand is. :-)

    4. And go for your life with the clergy! Nothing's sacred there.

  4. "Look at my eyes when I’m talking to you!"

    This is just brilliant!

  5. ROFL! A good read at the end of a lonnngg day in retail. Good will after Christmas? You mean there was good will before Christmas? Because the same people who complained and snapped at me for having to wait in line on Christmas Eve, snapped and complained about having to wait in line, AGAIN, today.

    There is no pleasing the public, I say.


  6. Awww, whatever happened to good old "lived happily ever after?" :-)) But I love your version, and can't wait for the sequel!

  7. a tasty little treat, this retelling of yours. with all those criminal acts packed into one tale, I wonder what the charge will be and who will end up behind bars.

    1. Mmmm...I wonder. It could just be an unreturned library book....

  8. And is the heinous crime the burning of the witch, child abandonment, or the case of the missing step mama. The media will be camped there for weeks. And weeks. And all the neighbours will get their fifteen minutes of fame. And the psychologists and the lawyers will grow rich...

  9. You've got my vote for this year's Panto :)

  10. Hilarious! Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Giving "The Forest Chorale" the 'readers' choice' award. Priceless entertainment. You have got to do a chapbook. Smiles.

    Thank you for your support of / participation in Poets United Poetry Pantry this year, J Cosmo; and I wish you a Happy New Year & continued inspired writing in 2013!

  12. Most. Fun. Yet.

    I love this (and would love to see and hear it done orally).

  13. wow, that's amazing, when can we see it live?

  14. This is an epic piece! Perfect for the season of pantomime, and I really like the script format. You brought your own brand of humour to the story, and I greatly enjoyed the read.

  15. Entertaining Story now the ending was quite a surprise waiting the sequel.

  16. You made me laugh out loud, well, sorry, cackle. This is brilliantly clever and so amusing. Thanks for a fabulously enjoyable read.

  17. What fun to read and what a surprise it is! Love when a work leaves me smiling.

  18. Cosmo, what fun!! Love a clever story and you delivered in spades :-) big smiles and laughter. Happy New Year!!

  19. What a great take on this! Enjoyed it immensely.

  20. omg....hahaha... A parenting tip, naughty but handy:
    Children sleep well if dosed up with brandy...oh hte social workers lines as well...wanting to help but the budgets been piece...

  21. Oh boy I bet they are all getting stuck behind bars lol!!

    Awesome read from start to finish.

  22. haha..such a cool weave of the story...the brandy in the kids drinks, the cut budget of the social worker..and of course the media..very cool

  23. An old fairy tale re-vamped in fine cops and robbers style! Exciting work over!

  24. This is so brilliant, it has to be set up as a music play. The wicked me enjoyed the fathers green lawn.

    I really enjoyed the read

  25. I had read and commented on this in December, but enjoyed it a second time around. Brilliant indeed.

  26. This is superb - and it would definitely play well as a full-blown pantomime.

    I was going to mention the amazing coincidence of the police and the press turning up simultaneously, but having read the previous comments ... I won't :-)

  27. An old tale very interestingly twisted n re-told in verses! Fabulous!

  28. Oh!! Wow lovely I am at a loss for my cheeks are acheing laughing!! Satire, humour, are a master of versess..truely fascinating!!!


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