I have to admit that Rapunzel is one of those fairy stories collected by The Brothers Grimm that somehow managed to pass me by. Other than knowing it had something to do with long hair and a pretty woman trapped in a tower, I knew nothing of the story.
Because of that, this year’s Christmas Show at Cambridge Junction appealed as something relatively new, and from experience, I know you can always rely on The Junction to be different.
A brief synopsis of the story in case you, like me, are unfamiliar with the tale… Rapunzel is a flower – something else I was unaware of – Campanula Rapunculus, if you will. Its leaves are widely used as a salad, which Rapunzel’s mother discovered had such a soothing effect on her new born, that she called her child Rapunzel. When Rapunzel’s mother dies, the baby is taken in by her wicked aunt and locked away in a tower. She is eventually discovered by a handsome prince, rescued, and they all live happily ever after.
Now, I said The Junction is different. Enter production company Dancing Brick. Transform the handsome young prince into Prince (Nelson Ekaragah), the frustrated hairdresser. Place him in a sixties style hair salon, where he only ever gets to brush and trim and not experiment with hair. Add to that his father’s insistence that he must marry the woman with the best hair in town, in keeping with family tradition, and that that woman should be Dame Gothel (Candy Markham) – yes, you guessed it, the wicked aunt!
A rotating set switches us between the hair salon and the tower in the dark forest where Rapunzel (Zelina Ribeiro) tells us her story beautifully in song.
Perhaps more could have been made of audience participation. There were youngsters in the audience itching to shout out and get involved, but very well behaved young theatre goers they were, which is a credit to them. However they got into the spirit of it in the second half with plenty of boo-ing and hissing at Dame Gothel and a loud and uniform “ahh-yuck” when the prince eventually got to kiss Rapunzel!
This is a family Christmas Show, and for many children, their first experience of a theatre. The show introduces them to theatre, not pantomime and that is to be lauded. There is nothing wrong with good old fashioned panto. But if you would rather your children not be exposed to innuendo, gaudy Dame’s makeup and screams of ‘it’s behind you’ then this production is well worth considering.
Finally, I have to make mention of Musical Director Chris Preece whose one-man band worked tirelessly throughout the show, feeding the atmosphere and even being the voice of Prince’s Dad!
Rapunzel runs at Cambridge Junction until 31st December with some dates already sold out. Click here for tickets and show times.