December 8, 2015  //  By:   //  Panto, Reviews  //  Comments are off

Following Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel is the third instalment in the ‘Chronicles of Waa’ Christmas shows written by Jez Bond and Mark Cameron for Park Theatre.

The King and Queen of Pűss Pűss are preparing to welcome their long awaited first child when disaster strikes; the Queen is gravely ill and only a mysterious herb can save her and the child. Enter Baron Teth with a promise to save the Queen but the price of his help proves to be higher than the King can imagine. Eighteen years later, Prince Corbyn meets a mysterious girl with long hair in the woods; history is re-written.

A collection of characters welcome us into their world with song, dance and audience participation. The action is narrated by two fairies channelling sports commentators. The original score and songs make a great addition to this familiar fairy tale.

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The cast of five are strong performers and they all have their chance to shine with solo numbers. Rolan Bell (Olivier nominated for his role in the West End production of Memphis) gets the chance to show off his impressive singing voice as the King. Co-writer Mark Cameron relishes the audience’s boos in the role of the evil baron. Alex Hope’s youthful enthusiasm is well cast as the sidekick in Act One and Prince Corbyn in Act Two. Aretha Ayeh switches convincingly between the Queen and her daughter Rapunzel. Avita Jay completes the cast as the loyal Dr Chuff who sees through the Baron’s lies but struggles to make the King understand.

The set and costumes are simple; characters arrive from all corners of the stage and the fairies appear through windows on the back wall. The audience is close to the action so there is no excuse for not joining in, even if you’re in the back row.

There’s innuendo for fans of traditional pantomime and children will enjoy the energetic performances of the cast. Park Theatre has become a worthy addition to the collection of London Christmas shows.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photos: Darren Bell

Rapunzel is playing at the Park Theatre until 2 January 2016. Click here for tickets