This delightful, energetic take - in witty rhyming couplets - on the traditional Rumpelstiltskin story has some of the most attractive folksy music (composed by Ivan Stott) I’ve heard in a children’s show for some time, including a movingly lyrical violin/viola duet underpinned by ukulele. All four cast members are talented and versatile actor-musicians.
Stott presents an appealing Yorkshire miller, a wittily prosaic fairy and a fine, sinister, menacing Rumpelstiltskin - a magic dwarf played as a puppet with Stott’s head and hands. The accomplished Charlotte Mafham switches seamlessly between haughty queen and Mess, the mysterious, down to earth girl, and Sam Redway is good value as the spoilt, grab-it-all prince who eventually grows up. There’s also a pleasing performance from elfin Valentina Ceschi, with her attractive silvery singing voice, as the miller’s daughter who becomes a queen but who can’t spin straw into gold.
Barney George’s ingenious, imaginative set contributes to the show’s success. Based on a huge mill wheel which turns when all the sacks and other items within it are put to use elsewhere and doubles as a bed, the set also includes a pretty convincing corn field and a nice grainy floor. The wheel, partly covered with backcloth, later becomes the frame for an entrancing shadow puppet sequence.
So, there is enough charm to butter crumpets but arguably the show is a bit wordy and long for the tiny children it seems to be attracting. The company might do better to emphasise that over fives will get more out of it.