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RAPUNZEL at The Crucible Studio

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 14th Dec 2012 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe

tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal  (Review by Paul Tyree)

Wed 12 December 2012 – Sat 5 January 2013


Tutti Frutti productions in association with York Theatre Royal bring their new take on Rapunzel for young children to Crucible’s Studio. With three actors and minimal sets, but with wonderfully open acting and stylized movements, this adaptation not only brings the story to life it also shows how great theatre for children need not cost the earth.

Exploring themes not normally associated with Rapunzel this takes the traditional reading of the witch stealing a baby and locking her in a tower redundant. Instead we have a grandmother that simply fears the loneliness of losing the one other person in the world that she cares about. Indeed here it is Rapunzel herself in this version that encourages the building of the tower in order that she might see further away, as far as the eye can see. Her enquiring mind ultimately leading to the inevitable desire to leave home and explore the world that the grandmother so fears.

Mike Kenny’s script is lyrical and mesmerising, and Wendy Harris’s direction has combined with a team of actors to create a method of storytelling that kept even the youngest of children in the audience transfixed. And that truly is the test of this sort of theatre, can you keep the young ones from drifting off, from talking, from being confused or just simply bored. And this production achieved that seemingly with consummate ease, although it must have taken a huge amount of work.

Linking words with a stylised dance style the three actors were always in movement, always giving the children something to watch, but it was never done for its own sake, it always had purpose, calm and felt more akin to some martial art than dance itself.

There were also original songs which felt fresh but also poignant and truly served the story.

And finally the three actors were all marvellous. Gayle Newbolt plays Rapunzel throughout many different ages and manages to capture them all with aplomb. Hers is truly a wonderful performance. Selina Zaza is also fantastic as Nan and really convinces as an old woman, even though she is really very young indeed. There is an aching quality to her performance that in a sense allows the audience to see what this play is really about and that is the loneliness that occurs when children grow up and move on. Max Gallagher as Rafi is our storyteller, love interest and holder of the moon. On at least two separate occasions he traverses the stage with a light encased in a spherical shade to represent the moon, and one of the young people behind me said “He must be really strong”. (And I’m pretty sure they weren’t being ironic – four year olds rarely are). He too is incredibly engaging and so this production not only has the best in terms of writing and directing but has assembled a wonderful cast as well.

As a treat for your youngest at Christmas time, you really couldn’t do much better than to take them to this.


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Located within the Crucible building, the Studio Theatre has a flexible design allowing the seating to be adjusted to play on one, two or three sides or in the round. Seating in the Studio is unreserved.
The Studio hosts a mix of small-scale in-house and touring productions, as well as hosting the acclaimed Ensemble 360's tri-annual Music in the Round Festival.  

  • 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000



1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Sounds like a classy Christmas treat for all the family, Paul. Great review, thanks.
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