For those of you who need to do some festive skimming: GO TO THIS VERY EXCELLENT SHOW IN BATH BEFORE JANUARY 12.
Now that’s out the way, I can tell you why. Let’s face it, Christmas shows can get a bit formulaic. And while we’re all fond of a bit of festive formula, we need each show to have a special sparkle. That stand-out thing that makes the kids say, “Remember when….?” and ask you to re-enact it for months to come.
Well, congratulations to writer Annie Siddons, director Nik Partridge, musical director and composer David Ridley and their whole team, because they’ve nailed it.
You know the Rapunzel story: eponymous small child gets taken in by warpedly-over-protective surrogate mother, who imprisons her in a tower, where (thanks to her girder-like hair and sturdy scalp) girl meets boy and – via some obstacles – escapes, to live with him H.E.A.
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What’s so excellent about this show is that the cast obviously have lots of fun retelling it, the script is energetic and bouncy, the music is smart and gorgeous (frankly, I want the soundtrack) and Rosanna Vize’s set design is even more fun.
Basically, this is the show that children would make if they had magic wands and a theatre at their command.
It’s glowing flowers, grizzly eyeballs, dancing bushes, fickle thieves, a greedy posho prince, huge amounts of confetti-leaves, superb musicianship from the whole gang, ruby rings, audience call-outs, actors clambering through the audience and plenty of accessible wit. This thoroughly enjoyable show keeps the ball in the air without demanding too much of a young audience, or asking too little of an adult one.
There’s also that all-important freshness in the retelling of the story. Mother Gothel (the excellent Peta Maurice) is a herbalist; Samantha Sutherland’s Rapunzel is never cloying or a victim; lover Patrizio (warmly and endearingly played by Joseph Tweedale) has a wicked brother (also played very Bullingdon-ly, and with much fun, by Peta Maurice), and their dad, Martin Bonger’s Duke, is a loving, caring father. Rose McPhilemy, Dorian Simpson and Alex Heane provide the all-important “friends and family” roles that every Christmas show needs – and marvellously escape the Widow Twanky/Buttons mould with very satisfying “baddie-turns-goodie” characters.
But I’m just a grown-up. So I took my nearly-nine-year-old for a sanity check. Is it really the cracking show I tell you it is? His face – and those of the children all around – said it all. They clearly loved it – and there were a few young teens in, who were just as engrossed as I was. So, basically, don’t miss this. It’s very, very, very good. The cast and directing are fab, the set’s superb, the writing’s top-notch and the music’s some of the best theatre can offer. Get a ticket, quick!
Rapunzel continues at the egg, Theatre Royal Bath until January 12. For more info and to book tickets, visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk/event/rapunzel
Pics: Nick Spratling
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