Putting The Pun In Rapunzel In Stratford

Rapunzel, Theatre Royal Stratford East, ★★★★☆

Sophia Shluger
By Sophia Shluger Last edited 12 months ago

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Putting The Pun In Rapunzel In Stratford Rapunzel, Theatre Royal Stratford East, 4
Photo: Scott Rylander

Puns abound, but no cliches can be found in this magical Rapunzel that is invigoratingly fantastical yet never absurd.

The show follows evil witch Maddy’s desperate search for the elixir of youth which must be made from the juice of special hair. High energy from the get-go and a stunning set as delightful as the African-inspired costumes make for a great first impression and visual feast throughout.

Michael Bertenshaw’s exemplary and multifaceted wickedness as Maddy is upstaged only by solid on-stage chemistry between Rapunzel (Joanne Sandi), and Goldilocks (Julie Yammanee) who plays a rockabilly feminist hero. The high calibre of singing, diversity of characters (including a bruv-tastic gangsta bear) and unpredictably rich plot twists are impressive. The show’s jokes are finessed and span politics and pop culture while complementing well the catchy nonsense songs influenced by rock, reggae and even flamenco.

Photo: Scott Rylander

This panto is palpably progressive yet still subtle in its near-the-bone double entendres. Initial sexual tension between Rapunzel and Goldilocks resolves itself into ‘Flower Power;’ fitting well with the hallmark spirit of Rapunzel’s message on diversity, which refreshingly includes an actual transgender character, rather than a principal boy or panto dame.

The finale falls a bit flat but doesn’t deflate the overall joy that springs from the show’s astonishing depth of story and multiple take-home messages.

Rapunzel, Theatre Royal Stratford East, E15 1BN,  Until 13 January 2018.  £10-£32.

Last Updated 14 December 2017