Saturday, 18 April 2020

PANTOMIME REVIEW: Rapunzel: A Lockdown Panto - Theatre Royal, St. Helens.


Clever, very clever. Oh yes it was!

Question: How does one produce a pantomime - a genre of theatre traditionally requiring audience participation and lots of youngsters - on a computer screen? Answer: Like this!

The Theatre Royal, St. Helens in co-production with Regal Entertainment managed to produce a short, one hour panto, serialised into 7 short episodes (shown at 1:30pm each day for the last week) with all the cast in costume, acting from their own homes. The tech-savvy post production team then cleverly mixed all these together with some clever online scenery to make it look like, as near as possible, the cast were acting together. They even had 4 young female dancers in several of the songs performing their routines in isolation and then brought together - in sync! - for the presentation.

Many of the traditional elements of pantomime had been kept - a dame (playing the wicked witch), a couple of the well-worn routines - and a little audience participation by using the other cast to shout out responses where appropriate.

The story of Rapunzel, was, more or less, how I remember it. Witch takes Rapunzel at birth from King and Queen and locks her up in a high tower until her 18th birthday. On her 18th birthday she asks the witch to let her go, but she is reluctant. Meanwhile Kinga nd Queen emlist the help of a fairy (or two), a likely Jack-the-Lad and a handsome young Prince in trying to find their daughter. As luck would have it they do find her on her 18th birthday and as the prince marries Rapunzel, the fairies turn the witch into an 'essential worker' growing vegetables for the markets.

There are several songs along the way, and all credit to all involved for making it so 'real' and atnospheric. I didn't think it could be done... but you've proved the cynic wrong, and I'm delighted you have!

Up-to-the-minute lockdown humour interspersed with plenty for the kids and a whole load of rhyme.

A huge thumbs up to all. James Lacey for writing and directing it; Sarah walker for choreographing it; the cast: Olivia Sloyan (Rapunzel), James Lacey (Witch), Lewis Devine (Daft Dave), Samantha Palin (Queen), Warren Donnelly (King), Andrew Geater (Prince), Abby Middleton (Fairy Annalogue), Jenna Sian O'Hara (Pixie Pixel), and the four dancers. However primarily to those responsible for things technical and compiling and editing everything to make it a smooth and coherent piece. Bravissimi!

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 18/4/20

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