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Rapunzel review at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow – ‘fine acting battles a weak structure’

Ewan Somers and Jessica Hardwick in Rapunzel at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Photo: Tim Morozzo Ewan Somers and Jessica Hardwick in Rapunzel at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Photo: Tim Morozzo

The Citizens’ annual Christmas performance, directed with deconstructed flair by Lu Kemp, is a complicated and plot-heavy adaptation of a simple fairy-tale. Annie Siddons’ script twists and turns – to no great end, since the romantic resolution is inevitable – and packs wicked stepmothers, herbalism, blind princes, economic collapse and aristocratic conspiracy into two hours that frequently lurch between styles and locations.

If Rachael Canning’s design echoes the familiar Citizens’ staging – suggestive platforms, a band on stage providing music and character turns – the cast are predictably strong, with Keith MacPherson revealing his versatility (he plays a duke, a boar and the violin) and Jessica Hardwick lending much needed vitality to the underwritten heroine.

The adaptation of Rapunzel’s story makes curious changes – the villain is an over-protective mother, and the gun-play and sexual allusions are a little rich for a play directed at younger audiences. The occasional breaking of the fourth wall cannot disguise the weak characterisation of the protagonists. Attempts at seriousness – such as asides at economic chaos – are tentative, and only the talent of cast, band and director manages to protect the script’s erratic construction.

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Plenty of plot and some fine acting battles a weak structure