Rapunzel – a Hair-Braiding Adventure

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

Mary Brennan

four stars

The Stirling-Stella portal into the Pantosphere has shifted slightly this year – building works at the Macrobert have resulted in new front doors and some thoughtful re-jigging of the foyer facilities. However, fear not! On-stage it’s very much business as usual and with Johnny McKnight writing/directing and Dame-ing it as Dolly Mixture, that means full-on funny business. In this, he’s goofily supported by Robert Jack who is Dolly’s son, Tenpee Mixture (say it out loud) and Helen McAlpine, whose wickedly evil Gothel frequently acts up dafter than a (hair) brush.

Now, elbowing its way into the comedy cantrips, there is a plot – you could fit it, more or less, onto a hair bobble but it does allow Betty Valencia to sing her way into our hearts as Rapunzel, whose long braid of hair is magic. No, actually. It’s why Gothel keeps her captive in a tower – but I won’t give that game away.

One day, a Prince hears her singing and ouch! yowl! shriek! he hauls himself into the tower by Rapunzel’s hair – is it lu-u-u-rve? Well, Prince Rocco (Keith McLeish) certainly fancies himself big time... but self-love is blind to, for instance, Katie Barnett’s loyal and adoring side-kick Goonifer. And there you have the ingredients for McKnight/Dolly’s wonderfully more-ish mixture of mayhem, misadventure and pop-tastic musical numbers.

The Young Cast – I saw The Tangles – cut it to a T, whether the required style is punk, rap, Madonna or Gaga. Meanwhile McKnight is in the grip of some chubbette leotards, exuberantly themed around sweeties. Not so much glam-drag as camp-coated dragée, with Dolly’s bahookey-shaking dance routines a bootylicious treat for all ages. The ‘ring-a-ding-ting-ching’ of true love signals a happy ending for one couple, but the abiding message is one of forever friendship... and how a good haircut can be hugely liberating!