The appeal of a fairytale must surely lie not only in the saccharine sweet capsule of the pill of morality, but also the rather black and unpleasant contents of deceit, betrayal and murder. Russell Matcham’s production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1987 fairytale-derived musical Into the Woods explored these contrary perspectives in a multiplicity of ways. The musical itself bifurcates at the interval and moves away from the traditional fairy-tale sequence in which right triumphs over wrong and instead explores the personal propriety of the various characters. This shift from stereotype to an individual responding within role is a challenging one and the splendid range of the actors was amply evident. A beautifully designed set (created by Jason Marks) and the careful deployment of lighting both helped to frame the story. From the wit and humour of the first half to the darker moments of the second, Peter Davis’s student-led orchestra supported the voices and events on stage with flair and insight. The whole event marked a splendid start to this year’s theatre performances, which will continue next term with three house plays (Thomason, Allenby and Colvin) as well as an adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Miss Ali Fryer (the new Director of Drama).