Rapunzel, Park Theatre, review: ‘Triumphant and zany’

Rapunzel company. Picture: Darren Bell

Rapunzel company. Picture: Darren Bell - Credit: Archant

Audacious nonsense and unbridled joy are aplenty in Jez Bond’s fizzling Panto, says Caroline David.

Welcome back to the land of Waa – the Park Theatre’s zany imaginary world – and this year the fairy tale Rapunzel gets their unique brand of Panto makeover.

The King and Queen of Puss Puss are desperate to have a child but the evil Baron Teth has his eye on their crown and wheedles his way into the court where he blackmails them into giving him their baby daughter. Eighteen years later, the royals have given up hope of finding her until magnanimous Prince Corbyn rides through the land.

Artistic director Jez Bond directs as well as writes the text and music while co-writer Mark Cameron plays the Machiavellian Baron Teth. The creative team certainly enjoys their Christmas baby. On press night, Cameron stumbled over lines and played that to his advantage, breaking down the fourth wall like a stand-up comedian. Bond and Cameron are much indebted to the Marx brothers and the script fizzes with puns and word-associations. While some of the innuendos and surreal riffs will fly over the heads of the seven-plus target audience, the physical comedy won’t: my young companion laughed so hard during the tennis match sequence with its pauses and zinging, squelching ball-sounds, that he slipped off his seat.

The songs are superb with gospel numbers ‘Jubilation’ and dance track ‘Set Me Free’ as standouts. Rolan Bell as the King and Aretha Ayeh as Rapunzel are impressive vocalists. Alex Hope as Corbyn is a delightfully earnest hero.

The nonsense is audacious and the joy unbridled. Jubilation indeed.

Rating: 4/5 stars