Rapunzel, A Love Story, the egg at Bath Theatre Royal

WHEN I was about seven years old and first interested in cooking with mother – butterfly cakes and jam tarts, that sort of thing – some men came to paint the back of the house and I thought I would bake something for them.  So I got out an enamel pie dish and put in a little of everything I could reach in my mother’s larder. I’m sure all the ingredients were good, but mixed together they were an inedible mish-mash that even the kindly men in overalls couldn’t quite bring them­selves to eat.

So it is with the egg’s Christmas show, Rapunzel, written by Annie Siddons and directed by Nik Partridge.

It has a cast of seven very talented and versatile actors, most of them on-stage musicians too. The skeleton of the show is the very dark tale of Rapunzel, published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 with origins dating back at least as far as 1634 in Italy.  This version has been developed with the anarchic Kneehigh, and the production includes many of the Cornish company’s signature themes.

But this is a Christmas show in a space that is a dedicated children’s theatre, and the show is too confusing and too violent, losing track of the narrative along the way.

It is no fault of the excellent performances.

Peta Maurice manages a wonderful double act as the supercilious and unscrupulous princeling Paulo and the herbalist who takes the infant Rapunzel under her leafy wing.  Dorian Simpson could charm the birds off their branches, laughing. His Ambrosio is a rogue with a heart of gold and the ability to walk out of the action at will, sometimes to great effect. His diatribe against austerity might be timely in election week, but it’s too long and out of place in this show.

Joseph Tweedale is a loveable Patrizio, and Samantha Sutherland a spirited and passionate Rapunzel. Martin Bonger is an anguished duke and an impressive wild boar (with an incongruously Peppa Pig-type face, with tusks!).

The cast is completed by Md Alex Heane, giving his guitar hero best, and Rose McPhilemy who makes important contributions to the interesting music as well as playing one of the main roles.

So much effort and skill has gone into this show. But there are far, far too many ingredients to make something that will delight, enchant and entertain a family audience – and that’s what the egg should be about.


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