Siobhan Godwood checks out Cambridge Junction’s Christmas show offering
From the moment the stage lights go up, it’s clear that Rapunzel is a Christmas show with a difference. I took along three boys, aged 12, nine and eight, and they were completely transfixed right from the start. Chatting in the interval, when I said that there were only three actors in the show, they just didn’t believe me; and it really is pretty unbelievable, as they manage costume (and personality) changes with lightning speed throughout. Nelson Ekaragha as Prince, Candy Markham as Dame Gothel and Zelina Ribeiro as Rapunzel – and all three as other, incidental characters – are all extremely talented performers, managing to take the audience from hilarity to heartbreak over and over, and all with fantastic singing voices, too.
The show also features the slightly ‘off-set’ music and occasional narration of Chris Preece, a smart device that really brings the show together and gives it a modern and witty feel. The set is also fantastic; really simple, but incredibly clever, the actors rotate it themselves to take us seamlessly between the beauty salon and Rapunzel’s woodland tower.
The Junction is the perfect setting for this fairy-tale extravaganza. The audience really feel a part of the show – and this was clear from the way that the onlookers, particularly the children, became more and more involved in the performance as it went along, booing the baddie, cheering the goodies, calling out to the actors on stage and shrieking with laughter or disgust at the many funny and grotesque moments. The show is not a panto, it’s a modern, fast-paced theatre experience packed with music, comedy and tragedy, but it has an element of audience interaction that comes from both the intimate theatre setting and the incredibly energy of the performers. The show was created especially for the Junction, and this really shows, as the actors use the stage and the surroundings in a way that makes you feel as if you’re right there in the woods with Rapunzel and Prince. The production also builds really cleverly to a big, slapstick, happily-ever-after ending, with the action amping up as we reach the end of the show and the baddie getting her just deserts!
This is very much a modern retelling of Rapunzel, and has a strong message about being an individual and not being afraid to express yourself. This never feels preachy, though, and the ‘hairy’ theme gives the cast plenty of opportunity for the kind of physical, down-to-earth comedy that children love. Every single child in that theatre was very clearly having an absolute ball, and my own children want to go and see the production again!
Rapunzel runs until 31 December at Cambridge Junction, show times vary. Book your tickets here.