The Egg’s Christmas shows are consistently a delight and this year’s Rapunzel, written by Annie Siddons and directed by Nik Partridge, is another inventive and gently subversive treat.
In Siddons’ retelling of the story, Rapunzel (Samantha Sutherland) is the happy-go-lucky adoptive daughter of the herbalist Mother Gothel (Peta Maurice). The pair live in close harmony with each other, the older teaching the younger everything she knows about the healing properties of plants. Then one day a neighbour points out that Rapunzel is now an attractive young woman and Mother Gothel flies into a temper and locks her in a tower – apparently as an act of ‘love’ to keep her away from danger.
The symbolism of the mother-daughter relationship, which rests on the mother’s desperate fear of her daughter ‘replacing’ her with a man is a stroke of genius and one the most fascinating and unsettling aspects of the play.
There is also a wealth of brilliant performances. Maurice is extremely funny when doubling as the prancing, posturing prince passed over as the royal heir in favour of his brother, especially when using physical comedy. Dorian Simpson routinely steals scenes as Ambrosio, the criminal with a sort-of heart of gold.
The whole piece slightly suffers from being on the long side, with the energy dipping just before the interval and the ending being a bit rushed. But there’s so much to enjoy about Partridge’s detailed and resourceful production, from dancing topiary to the joyfully grim severing of a finger.