It was probably when the Dalek made its entrance that I realized just how far this version of Rapunzel had taken us from the original Brothers Grimm fairytale written more than 200 years ago. To another planet, in fact, at least for part of what was an endlessly wacky and inventive show.
Sarah Nixon and Mark Chatterton have been devising ‘rock’n’roll pantos’ for the Everyman since the turn of the century and this is one of their best. The original story of Rapunzel and her extraordinarily long hair is just about discernible in a plot which sees the beautiful princess threatened by the wicked witch Poisonella and wooed by love rivals Lord Alistair Banister and Archie Hood. As you’ll have gathered, Nixon and Chatterton like their comical names – other characters include Armitage Shanks and Friar Tuck Biscuit.
The cast includes several Everyman regulars, with Adam Keast and Francis Tucker’s double act as Horace and Doris at the centre of much of the comic mayhem, and Sam Haywood, who was Aladdin at the Playhouse a couple of years ago, a likeable Hood. He has to get the better of Tom Connor’s arrogant Lord Alistair (boo) and protect Rapunzel from Marianne Benedict’s marvellously malevolent Poisonella (hiss). Stephanie Hockley (a LIPA graduate) is in winning form as Rapunzel herself.
The cast switch with impressive ease from acting to singing and/or instrument playing, and the musical numbers are loud, raucous and energetic. The sets and the costumes are great, combining to make the stage a riot of colour. Waterpistols are deployed with expert precision (having suffered a wet face I can say this with confidence) and even if some of the jokes and plot twists probably sailed over the heads of the younger children a thoroughly good time was had by all. If you’ve never experienced one of the Everyman’s legendary pantos before this is an excellent year to start – and I’ve a feeling you’ll be back.
**** Seasonal bliss
Photos ©Robert Day
Rapunzel: Hairway To Heaven continues at the Everyman, Liverpool until 23 January. For more information, click HERE.