This original production by the MAC is 80% classical fairy tale, 20% Guillermo del Toro nightmare, and the horror stems entirely from Jo Donnelly’s creeping, punk-inspired Rumpelstiltskin. The play’s namesake may appear infrequently, but always to great effect. Her uncanny physicality, coupled with lines ridden with bitterness and dissatisfaction, injects terror in to the villain’s scenes.
Our heroine Emily (Doireann McKenna) is a 21st-century girl: spiky, independent and much cleverer than her arrogant royal love interest. McKenna may have a voice of sweetness and clarity, but she drives the plot with spunk, assertiveness and an insistence on gender equality.
The sparse wooden set is masterfully designed, featuring a walkway above the stage and poles on which to loll and climb on beneath: but it is somewhat underused, with the primary action taking place centre stage below.
The costumes reflect that typical, fairy tale assortment of eras and styles; but, sumptuous or humble, they are skilfully and creatively put together.
The score is modern and is at its best in upbeat numbers, but lyrically some ideas may be missed by more youthful audience members: this, though, is unlikely to dampen spectator spirits for this excellent new production.