This colourful, queer retelling of Rapunzel at the ADC is a guaranteed great time
Equal parts an affirmative lesson in loving yourself and a hilarious satire of lad culture, this year’s panto at the ADC sees Rapunzel performed like never before (writers Sophie Stemmons, Libby Thornton, and Izzie Harding-Perrott really went to town on this almost-three-hour long show!)
With musical numbers aplenty, lots of audience interaction, and a whole cast of charismatic, queer and entertaining characters, it’s really got it all. On Thursday night it was sold-out, and this vibrant show met all expectations and left its audience in stitches.
Immediately clear from the outset is the excellent characterisation. It’s difficult to execute a play with a cast of over fifteen and make sure that every character has their own memorable, unique personality– but the directors and cast of Rapunzel have done it with ease.
The main plotlines are all easy to follow and engaging: toxic masculinity is turned into a laughing stock in the shape of the villain King Chad, his nephew Prince Victor finds himself on a quest to save Rapunzel (before realising that what he wanted all along was to be a drag queen), and all the while a sweet romance blossoms between Oyin Olukotun as Rapunzel and Chani Merrell as Princess Stella. Oh, and a revolution to overthrow the evil King Chad follows in the second half, naturally.
This all turns into a heart-warming message about loving yourself and changing for nobody, but don’t think that means the humour is absent!
Iona Rogan as Buttons and Penny Balint as Dame DragOn (get it?) in particular give some fantastic comic relief, and the audience interaction was original– including a game of ‘Guess Who’ that used the audience as pieces, spoken word improv, and a box collecting ideas for Prince Victor’s drag queen name-to-be during the interval.
Indeed, the quips were on point throughout as well– I particularly enjoyed Theo Tompkins berating the audience for not responding properly (“We have a reviewer here tonight”) and I think I counted at least three Priti Patel jokes (or was it four?).
However, as picture-perfect as the first half was, the plot did begin to meander a little in the second. Every scene was still laugh-out-loud funny, but some did feel a little unnecessary in terms of plot development. Did minor characters Rumpelstiltskin and the Pied Piper really need their own scenes in the forest? Almost certainly not– but they did, and they were funny, perhaps that’s all that matters.
The biggest issue came with the musical numbers, however– some were stunning, but others missed the mark because the punchlines were drowned out by the sheer volume of the music, and this was a recurring theme. It’s a shame, because when we could hear the jokes in the lyrics they were usually excellent.
Despite this though, it was a hilarious show with a lovely message– the amount of work that went into it must have been phenomenal, and I’ve never seen a show at the ADC which has so many set changes or pushes the boundaries of the theatre’s lighting technology quite so much.
Perhaps the finer details do let Rapunzel down ever so slightly, but when you’re sat in the theatre that won’t matter one bit. If you see it, you’re guaranteed one hell of a good time.
Rapunzel runs from Wednesday 24th November until Saturday 4th December at 7.45pm at the ADC Theatre, with matinee performances on some dates. Tickets are available here.
Feature image credits: Rapunzel Production Team