West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, and touring
Over the years since West Yorkshire Playhouse moved into its new building I've seen a great many productions, good, bad and indifferent. In the smaller of the two spaces, the Courtyard, my treasured memories include three Romanian productions (Phaedra, Titus Andronicus, The Bald Prima Donna) and the peerless Shock Headed Peter. To this illustrious list I now add Kneehigh's Rapunzel.
What a near perfect couple of hours, heaving with exquisite performance, wardrobe, puppets, light, colour, sound, set.... and even a big rabbit. Crammed with spectacular theatre! Kneehigh break every rule in the book and all without any self-consciousness or self-regard; without patronizing or alienating a packed house of all ages. The great tumble of joy rolls so fast, forever changing pace, mood, scene, emotional tone, that adults and children alike are carried with it, surfing the waves of their own laughter.
The production takes one narrative track through the cluster of Rapunzel tales and finds the raw emotionality of the ur-story. And then celebrates the singularity of this particular narrative, detail on detail, image on image.
The performers, many taking multiple roles, are exuberant and endlessly winning. Anyone of them, from the main characters to the performing stage hands, could be singled out and given stars. But that isn't necessary - this is Kneehigh: the epitome of dedication and talent. Wow! Come back soon!
David Chadderton reviewed this production at The Lowry, Salford Quays
Reviewer: Ray Brown