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Rapunzel and the Rascal Prince (Bury St Edmunds, Theatre Royal)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The advantage of picking a lesser-known Grimm fairy tale for a Christmas show is that the writer can use – or ignore – as many of the traditional pantomime conventions as he or she chooses. So Daniel O'Brien (aka Colin Blumenau) gives Rapunzel a hip-hopping rapping prince as her rescuer from the clutches of wicked weed Ragwort, makes the dame role into green-fingered Hyacinth Horseradish and provides a wise old owl to lead the forces of good. Oh yes, and there's a strong ecological message tied up in it all.Abigail Anderson directs.

Rebecca Applin has provided some catchy tunes for Chris Huntley to play and the cast to sing. [Will Hargreaves' sets are storybook ones which allows the costuming to make its mark. Our villainess Ragwort is the excellent Joanne Heywood, shimmering away in green silks and the highest of heels. Thoroughly boo-able – just as a baddie should be. Andrew Pepper's Sage is a no-nonsense owl, dispensing good advice when asked but careful not to upset the balance, either of nature or the storyline.

Heroine Rapunzel (Jasmine Gur) doesn't have a great deal to do but let down her hair, take up a book and generally bemoan her fate. Aiden Crawford's Prince Rapscallion is a lively youth, bouncing along in his own fashion in spite of everything Sir Stephen (Mike Onslow) can do to restrain him. Then there's Hyacinth herself – Steve Wickenden in a purple wig and many-flounced dress, the gardener in chief for the village.

Adults have fun picking up various sly references, including (appropriately) the television detective series Rosemary and Thyme. Rapunzel's parents are Sorrel (Nerine Skinner) and Ginger (Alex Wadham), a gentle pair - even if I'm not sure that I'd want them on my plate in the same dish. This is billed as a pantomime but may well have an all-the-year-round afterlife. Green issues are seldom out of the news and interest children as well as their elders.


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