The Towngate Theatre's pantomime has again been written by Brad Fitt and has Grace Eccle as its titular heroine, Rapunzel. She's named for a flower, a magical one which saves the life of the queen her mother.

Grace Eccle & Simon Fielding with the chorus
Grace Eccle & Simon Fielding with the chorus
© Carmel Jane Photograhy

The trouble is that the king (of Basildonia, naturally) picked it without first asking permission from enchantress Ragwort. Nigel Peever as King Caractacus has a nice line in well-meaning absent-mindedness which makes this mission entirely credible.

Ragwort (Sophie Ladds) lives up to her name. She's a poisonous specimen and Ladds thoroughly revels in the audience's reaction to her machinations. Neither nurse Dame Dotty (Lincoln Hudson) nor her son, would-be helpful Schnitzel (Simon Fielding, who also directs and choreographs) can stop her seizing the young Rapunzel and imprisoning her.

That prison is a smartly revolving tower and it's up to dashing Flynn Rider (Ashley Emerson) to ride to the rescue. Which he does, both energetically and tunefully. This production has making ice-cream for the princess' birthday party as its slop scene variation (hilarious) and the forest chase sequences are well handled.

Rapunzel runs at the Towngate Theatre, Basildon until 5 January.