The True Story of Hansel and Gretel
By Louise Murphy
Remember Grimm’s fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel? The brother and sister end up wandering the woods and follow a bird to a house made of bread, cake, and sugar. As the children begin to eat the roof, the witch who lives there invites them in. The witch keeps Hansel in a cage, fattening him up for stew, while she makes Gretel into her slave. When the witch gets hungry and tries to cook both children, Gretel pushes her into the oven. She frees her brother and the children find their way back home.
So yeah, remember that tale? The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is a play on that tale. Set during the Nazi’s occupation of Poland, the True Story of Hansel and Gretel is a play on that fairy tale. Its the story of a Jewish family’s quest for survival. The children are separated from the father and stepmother and find their way into a nearby village where they are taken in by the village “witch.” They stay there for the duration of Nazi occupation, forming a little family with the witch, her niece, and another villager. Meanwhile, the children’s father and stepmother join up with a paramilitary group that sabotage and fight the Nazi troops. Will they survive the war? Will the family be united?
Despite some of the graphic descriptions of Nazi cruelty, Murphy’s retelling of the fairy tale was a fairly happy tale. The characters never lost hope that the Nazis would be defeated and their lives returned back to normal. They constantly made the best our of bad situations by sticking together and helping out each other and those in need.