Theatre / Christmas show

Review: Rapunzel, the egg, Bath

By gill kirk, Monday Dec 16, 2019

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.

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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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