REVIEW: Rapunzel at the Georgian Theatre Royal

Panto season has been in full swing for a few weeks now and it is very much the lifeblood of every provincial theatre. Some box offices even suggest it accounts for up to 80 percent of an annual year’s takings, which underlines how important it is to get it right.  

 Thankfully the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond has always been a safe bet and this year that trend has continued with a rollicking, riotous and rip-roaring rendition of an old festive favourite Rapunzel (Rebecca Huish).  

The story line doesn’t really matter and the director played pretty fast and loose with it anyway, but the fun and frolics there were a-plenty. In a nutshell, for the 0.01 percent of the population that do not know the tale, it is of a girl, Rapunzel, who is locked up in a tower by her evil ‘mother’ – in this case Gothel (Paige Rochelle). Thankfully a way out is provided by Rapunzel’s extraordinary hair and all is saved by Jimmy ‘Prince’ Charming (Marcus Jones) and an audience of vegetable-throwing kids, mums, dads and grandparents.  

 The star of the show is always the panto dame and here we have a Richmond treasure as nobody does slapstick comedy better than Nick O’Connor, who played the garishly-gowned Desiree Spud. Her Liverpudlian accent is a treat and Spud nearly brought the house down when arriving on stage swinging from a giant melon. There were no points deducted for this lifelong Everton football fan!  

The strength of the show is the cast and the efforts of the many local child actors who clearly enjoy the experience just as much as the audience. Kids loved it and well they should as Rapunzel had corny jokes as well as cracking ones. OK, not all under-5s are going to get a gag about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, but that is the strength of an excellently performed panto in that it appeals almost as much to the elders as it does to the juniors.   

 A few free chocolate bars had them clambering in the aisles and the story of how Rapunzel is set free unfolded. There were some belting songs, in particular Mother Gothel’s rendition of Cher’s ‘If I could turn back time’ and the show’s finale ‘Spud-u-like.’  

 The sets were tremendous and what can possibly beat a peeing pantomime camel? Someone, somewhere, in years to come will be able to say ‘I was the back end of a panto camel and peed on the audience.’  

 You will love it. Oh yes you will.  

1 Comment

  1. A wonderful couple of hours. The ‘singing detective’ number was the highlight for me – simple, effective and inspired set design, costumes, musical arrangement and choreography, and well performed. The whole show was a joy – thanks to all involved.

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