Rapunzel was anything but a classic pantomime – and that’s exactly why I loved every minute of it.
Written by Geoffrey Aymer, the show at Theatre Peckham is one we all think we know – with a Peckham twist.
Whilst they hold a place in our hearts, many fairy tales can become stale and yawn-inducing – not to mention outdated.
But not this one. This black-led production of Rapunzel gave a tired story some much-needed life.
In its original Grimm form, Rapunzel is a story of a baby who gets taken away from her family and is locked away in a tower – except here instead of a sorceress there is a greater evil at play, Aunt Cassie (Jade Leanne Benjamin).
Cassie kidnaps Rapunzel (Kellah-M) as a baby and raises her as her own – but soon she realises this child has a lot more to offer than just long locks.
Afro-hair is the star of the show here and a lot of the story is set in a salon owned by Rapunzel’s mum (Scarlet Douglas) – called Barnet Magic.
The importance of hair in black culture is something to be celebrated – and here we see it on a podium. The confidence and positive vibe of the cast and young people, whilst sporting iconic wigs was infectious.
Watching a gaggle of aunties in the audience nearly fall off their chairs laughing was heartwarming – the depiction of Grandma Mama Bea (Marcus Ayton) in particular unlocking a hilarious memory many would recognise in their own families.
For me, the little musical transitions between scenes gave it that cosy and nostalgic feel of a 90s sitcom. Lyricist Jordan Xavier created the perfect soundtrack with songs you’ll be humming days later. And they didn’t sway from the original there in the fact that Rapunzel had a beautiful voice.
Finally, shout out to the youth ensemble – from the Young Company – for the chorus they provided for the handsome yet clumsy prince Dignity Jones’ (Montel Douglas) on his journey to rescue Rapunzel.
All in all, this was amateur theatre at its finest – the only thing it lacked was the cringe-worthy garishness of a classic pantomime.
Catch it until December 24. Click here to see the last remaining tickets.