2 December 2014 to 10 January 2015
Reviewed by Linzi Davies
After delving deep into my childhood to remember the magical tale of the strange little man who could turn straw into gold, I went into Liverpool with my three young children in tow to see if it captured their imagination as it had mine many years earlier. We were a bit early so had a drink in the cafe on the second floor, the children were given pictures to colour in by staff and then we went to wait for the doors to open. I didn’t really like the undesignated seating policy as with three youngsters trying to shepherd them in and down the stairs whilst others were trying to push past to get to the better seats was slightly worrying but we managed, ending up on the second and third row as there wasn’t enough space for us all to sit together.
The theatre is only really small, seating roughly 150 people so the atmosphere is very intimate. The staging was very simple, basically a hard wooden flooring with a number of bales of straw of different shapes and sizes dotted about. A cast of four, three men and a lady (the miller’s daughter) then began to mingle amongst the audience, as they settled for the show, making various animal noises and getting the children to guess what they were. Suddenly the four return to the stage and break into the first of a number of songs that pepper the show. The miller inadvertedly boasting about his daughter and how she can turn straw into gold, a feat which the King decides he must see for himself.
The daughter is then taken to the castle where she must prove her worth; obviously distraught at the threat to kill her she is relieved when an imp like man appears to be her saviour. The child like King, raises many giggles with his toy playing antics whilst being a very nasty man (as described by one of my three year olds). The King refuses to allow the miller’s daughter to leave and just demands more and more gold. The magic spinning wheel glows gold and begins to turn, watched in awe by the many children in the audience. The story continues with many funny songs and dancing which keeps the children enthralled and desperately waiting for the next scene. The King and miller’s daughter finally marry (much to her disgust) and ultimately she gives birth to a daughter, a daughter that the crazy imp man threatens to take away unless she can guess his name.
At this point my very helpful 3 year old son shouted “Rumplestiltskin” at the top of his voice, much to the amusement of the audience and cast alike. The miller’s daughter then met with an Owl, Frog and Rabbit during a trek through the dark dark forest before discovering his name. The story ends with her keeping her daughter and the imp being defeated.
I would describe this as more of a play with some verse as opposed to a pantomime, however for it to keep my very own Tornado Thomas amused for an hour and twenty minutes it was doing something very right.
Highly enjoyable day out for all the family, especially children of a younger age.
Tickets cost from £8-£12, £30-£40 family (plus 50p Transaction fee).
Rumplestiltskin is at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool until 10 January 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 873 2888.
Unity Theatre. 1 Hope Place, Liverpool, L1 9BG | 0844 873 2888