Rapunzel at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre
As part of the Sadler’s Wells Family Weekend, balletLORENT are performing Rapunzel, the original fairytale reworked by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and realised by a plethora of talent. This is a family-friendly production of the Brothers Grimm classic, but with a twist. A loving couple are forced to give up their only daughter Rapunzel to a broody witch. The witch in turn, unwilling to share the girl with the world, locks Rapunzel in a tower – or so the parents hope.
Rapunzel is told here via the imaginings of the parents whose daughter has cruelly been stolen, and who create a fiction about her life. The production thus incorporates the parents’ point of view and sense of loss into the story – an element largely absent in the original fairytale. They imagine that a prince, drawn to Rapunzel’s singing, falls in love with her, but is blinded for his troubles and is forced to wander the world alone, without her. The two are finally reunited, but their happily-ever-after is not straightforward.
The production itself is beautifully conceived. The costumes are designed by Michele Clapton, whose work includes Casanova and Game of Thrones, and the incredible musical score is composed by Murray Gold whose work has included Dr Who. The set, designed by Phil Eddolls, is captivating: a kind of neo-gothic Art Nouveau apparently of wrought iron construction, which adds an enormous amount of drama. At times both the set and actors are used as shadow puppets to form dark and gothic silhouettes, like moving illustrations from a storybook.
The production, although aimed at family audiences, with children in the cast, works on a level that will move adult viewers. A more complex character than your average fairytale sorceress, the witch floats menacingly across the stage, but also shows maternal tenderness. Her desire to have a child is paralleled by that of Rapunzel’s mother to have her child returned to her, and juxtaposed with the guilt experienced by the parents. Thus this exploration of universal innermost desires is intensified through the magical lens of the fairytale. An exploration of love, loss and longing, more theatre dance than a straightforward ballet, balletLORENT’s production is a stunning reimagining of the Brothers Grimm classic, whose only fault is that is that it finishes too soon.
Rapunzel is at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 30th March 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.