We know the original versions of fairy tales were far darker and more complex than their latter incarnations as saccharine children’s bedtime stories. Grim(m) indeed.

So composer and librettist Stephen Sondheim and the book’s writer James Lapine were always on safe ground with their twisted, twisty 1986 fairytale musical, Into the Woods.

Here are classics such as Rapunzel, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk woven together with as much virtuosity as Sondheim’s brilliant score and with verbal wit sufficient to make Noel Coward or Cole Porter sound like poetasters.

And if the childless couple’s game-like quest trope of Act I keeps the action moving coherently, in Act II the centre cannot hold as a new threat tears apart existing relationships and compels uncomfortable new ones.

No happy endings here. Or are there?

The cast of WA Opera’s Into the Woods. Photo © West Beach Studio.

This WA Opera production of Northern Ireland Opera’s 2022 staging, with original director Cameron Menzies on board, is a total triumph. The ingenious work of set and costume designer Niall McKeever, lighting designer...