Christmas comes but once a year, bringing with it two types of panto: the glitzy, big budget ones plumped up with celeb casting and more homespun ones.
While it’s fair to say that Rapunzel, this year’s Christmas show at Hoxton Hall, is not the most polished panto in all the land, what it lacks in slickness it makes up for in charm.
Written and directed by Marc Day, the simplified fairytale has princess Rapunzel (Keshini Misha) reach her 18th birthday in the royal palace, after which she is compelled to return to resident baddie Witcherty Grub (Sunny Yeo), who locks her in a tower in punishment for some stolen lettuce back in the day.
The plot, however, isn’t given that much attention. Instead, Rapunzel is more about providing the cast with the opportunity to entertain the audience. Adam Jay-Price is a family-friendly dame, keeping all jokes child-suitable and gently buoying up viewers of all ages.
Inti Conde, in turn, is also reliably sweet to the children who are present, especially when leading them all in a mass sing-a-long of Baby Shark, the ubiquitous earworm that has to be the pantomime hit song of 2018.
As a collective, the cast have clearly been chosen on the quality of their singing voices. The musical numbers (composed by Chris Burgess) are by far the strongest moments of the whole show. The rest is often a little ramshackle, but it’s precisely this which gives it the feel of being a genuinely community-based and very Christmassy, endeavour.