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Rapunzel at London’s Park Theatre – Review

Rapunzel - Alex Hope as 'Prince Corbyn' <br/> Photo by Darren Bell
Rapunzel – Alex Hope as ‘Prince Corbyn’
Photo by Darren Bell

Rapunzel is the third fairy tale set in the land of Waa Waa.  Co-Written by the Park Theatre’s Artistic Director, Jez Bond and Mark Cameron the play is an updated, version of the popular fairytale and includes some great, catchy songs.

The play tells the story of The King and Queen of Püss Püss who long for an heir.  When the Queen contracts a life threatening fever during pregnancy, they try anything and everything to save mother and child.  A noble Baron offers a solution: a medicine so powerful that it can cure any illness; a herb called ‘Rapunzel’. But the witch who grows it always has her price – and in exchange for the herb, she demands their baby. Desperate, the King and Queen agree. The Queen recovers and gives birth to a healthy girl. But, as she is so quickly taken away, darkness falls across the land. Eighteen years later the royals have given up any hope of finding their heir. The Baron, now their greatest confidante, is about to be ordained King. But as the neighbouring Prince Corbyn rides through the forest he hears singing from an isolated tower. What happened to the witch and who is the noble Baron really? All is not what it seems…

The performance begins with the first appearance of the Narrators of this play, a pair of puppet fairies made by and excellently performed by Nick Ash.  They are lots of fun and pop up at various times throughout the performance.

The set is simple and basically a black backdrop with several openings at various points including one high up which is Rapunzel’s tower. The costumes are also simple, yet colourful.

I enjoyed all of the songs, which had some excellent lyrics.  Aretha Ayah (Queen Gerardine/Rapunzel) and Rolan Bell (King Gerard) in particular give belting performances.  The catchy “Set Me Free” and “Jubilation” were my two favourites.

The script is well written, humorous and topical; the cast are excellent.  Aretha and Rolan are competent in their roles as the King and Queen/Rapunzel. Mark Cameron, is lots of fun as “bad guy” “The Great Gazombees/The Baron”, whilst Alex Hope gives solid performances as both “Dobson/Prince Corbyn”.  My personal favourite was Avita Jay who turns in an excellent performance as “good guy” “Dr Chuff”; Whilst there were a couple of fluffed lines, the cast managed to recover well with a couple of good ad-libs.

Whilst this production isn’t a pantomime, certain scenes do bring out panto style reactions from the audience, and there are three, fun audience participation moments.

It was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours and would entertain the whole family albeit I wouldn’t recommend it for children under say, eight. Another thing to note is that the programme includes the play’s script and the lyrics/music to all the songs.

4 stars

Review by Karen Pond

Rapunzel
Book, Music & Lyrics by Jez Bond & Mark Cameron

Welcome back to our third and wackiest instalment of the Chronicles of Waa.
The King and Queen of Püss Püss long for an heir. When the Queen contracts a life threatening fever during pregnancy, they try anything and everything to save mother and child.

A noble Baron offers a solution: a medicine so powerful that it can cure any illness; a herb called ‘Rapunzel’. But the witch who grows it always has her price – and in exchange for the herb, she demands their baby.

Desperate, the King and Queen agree. The Queen recovers and gives birth to a healthy girl. But, as she is so quickly taken away, darkness falls across the land.

Eighteen years later the royals have given up any hope of finding their heir. The Baron, now their greatest confidante, is about to be ordained King. But as the neighbouring Prince Corbyn rides through the forest he hears singing from an isolated tower.

What happened to the witch and who is the noble Baron really? All is not what it seems…

Cast
Rapunzel/Queen Gerardine – Aretha Ayeh
King Gerard – Rolan Bell
The Great Gazombees – Mark Cameron
Dobson/Prince Corbyn – Alex Hope
Dr Chuff – Avita Jay

Creative:
Co-Writer & Director – Jez Bond
Co-Writer – Mark Cameron
Set and Costume Design – Victoria Johnstone
Choreographer – Lee Proud
Lighting Design – Julian McCready
Sound Design – Theo Holloway
Orchestrator / Musical Director – Dimitri Scarlato
Puppet Maker – Nick Ash
Casting Directors – Lucy Jenkins CDG and Sooki McShane CDG
Design Assistant – Cecilia Trono
Production Manager – Simon Dixon
Company Stage Manager – Helen Cobb
Assistant Stage Manager – Bessie Hitchin/Preece Killick
Set Builders – Tandem Set and Scenery
Producer (for Park Theatre) – John-Jackson (JJ) Almond
Associate Producer – Amy Lumsden

Rapunzel
3rd December 2015 – 2nd January 2016
Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace,
Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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