Creation Theatre Company - Rapunzel
26th November 2010 to 15th January 2011.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Love is in the hair
Rapunzel or the Magic Pig, at the BMW Plant, Oxford, until January 15
Creation Theatre Company celebrate a decade of productions at the BMW Plant. Oxford with a festive offering, Rapunzel or the Magic Pig. The company's unique selling point is still the venue: the exotic Spiegeltent with its cabaret-style tables, and intimate theatre in the round. Few Christmas shows will be located in such awe-inspiring locations.
The play, by Annie Siddons (her biography is surprisingly omitted from the programme notes), was originally written for the madcap Cornish company Kneehigh in 2006. Anyone who knows Kneehigh understands that their shows are a little darker, perhaps more naughty, than other productions aimed at children.
This revival maintains Kneehigh's trade-mark elements such as characters in drag, and loud, jolly music. One of the two villains is a witch, the herbalist Mother Gothel (Nicholas Osmond), an outrageous figure much given to expressing her love for her "daughter", Rapunzel (Amy Noble, Juliet in this summer's Creation Shakespeare).
So, this is a Creation production that feels like a Kneehigh show. This is especially apparent when the central character turns out to be neither Rapunzel, nor her metrosexual suitor, Prince Patrizio (the Nick Clegg-like Martin Richardson). Instead it is the comedy killer, Pierluigi Ambrosi (Creation regular Richard Kidd, also assistant director) who steals every scene he is in. Kidd even gets a quarter of an hour to explain to the audience how inflation works (very useful for our troubled times) by illustrating how ice creams keep going up in price.
The plot is complicated by the presence of another baddie. Patrizio's power-hungry brother, Paulo (Rob Cavazos). Having been passed over as heir to the throne, Paulo spends most of him time sending assassins to kill his estranged brother. For the young ones, director Charlotte Conquest has provided copious fluffy animals. Better still is her inventive use of puppets (designer, Lucy Wilkinson), especially the Magic Pig. Otherwise incidental to the story, the boar is the helper who provides Rapunzel with the magic acorns to fight back against her enemies.
Although a little cutting would benefit the over-long first half, Creation’s youthful exuberance makes this a fun entertainment for the holidays.
There are reviews in the Oxford Times ("this show is physical theatre with a vengeance... a thoroughly involving piece of fairytale storytelling, performed with zest by a uniformly excellent ensemble cast"), The Stage ("a show pitched deftly to kids and adults alike - an absorbing way to start the festive season") and Oxford Prospect ("this is more than a play, more than a show, more than just another pantomime: it is a creative theatrical event, and truly magical... suitable for all ages, don’t miss this magical event").