Cumbernauld Theatre

four stars


Tramway, Glasgow

three stars

Cardboard boxes are piled into a tower, a wee ‘forest’ arrives and the scene is set for Cumbernauld’s thoroughly engaging version of Rapunzel - not quite Grimm, and not slavishly Disney either, but both scary and merry enough to delight the youngsters flanking the central catwalk.

The three narrators who landscaped the stage are Rapunzel’s ‘invisible friends’ - soon re-appearing as cheeky monkey Mirari (Kay McAllister), a gawky accident-prone Prince (Tyler Collins) and the Glesca’ street-smart Dug, the Detective Dog (Josh Whitelaw).

Alongside the daft antics and nifty running gags that play to all ages, the trio offer Katherine O’Donnelly’s trusting Rapunzel the friendship that encourages her to start thinking for herself. Perhaps the wicked Queen doth protest too much and too often that eternal youth lies in drinking Rapunzel’s tears but Louise Stewart’s malevolent swagger makes her a baddie we love to hiss... though not when - yikes! - she’s suddenly beside us.

There’s a tremendous energy and imagination underpinning this production, designed and directed by Cumbernauld’s artistic director Ed Robson in a true spirit of ‘more dash than cash.’ It ends without Rapunzel marrying the hopeful Prince but as a self-assured Princess in her own right - great stuff!

Devised by students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and directed by Andy McGregor, Humbug! is a hi-jinks take on A Christmas Carol which whisks 3 to 6 year olds into Scrooge’s story and frequently brings them on-stage as eager hands-on helpers. Shopkeeper Bertie Scrooge (Bailey Newsome) is a grump with no time for Christmas beyond profit margins.

Luckily his employees, and a Mysterious Stranger with a Magic Snow Globe, trick him into all-singing, all-dancing encounters that remind him of what really matters: being with other people – not on your phone – and cutting loose, having fun and being alive to the world around you. Full of bounce, a bit surreal, delivered with unstinting wit and glee – terrific!

Mary Brennan