Our theatre reviewer, Hannah Hobson, shares her thoughts on Rapunz’ull at Social on Humber Street.
Middle Child’s pantomime this year, Rapunz’ull, is a rock’n’roll panto with all the fun of the fair. It tumbles onto the stage, irreverent and raucous, with enough edge to entertain the adults and some good old-fashioned pantomime fun for all the family.
Paul Smith has created a satirical romp. There are sprinklings of topical humor but it never feels it is leaning too hard on knowing nods to doing theatre in a post-covid landscape. Smith’s writing and direction plays on panto convention with a great understanding of what makes pantomime tick. The Middle Child Panto has developed its own rules, its own humour and its own specific brand of Hullian whimsy, referencing current events with a delicate touch.
As you’d expect from Middle Child, headed up by James Frewer, the music is incredible. The raucousness of panto seems suited to the rough and ready nature of gig theatre. At Social, the bar stays open throughout the show, allowing little ones in the audience more freedom than they would find in the proscenium arches of our big producing houses. Like going to see live music in a nontheatrical setting, the audience are as much a part of the show as the company. We sing and shout along to a fantastic rock ’n’ roll spectacle.
The cast are a true ensemble, tapping out to cover scene changes, acting as both band and bandits. One of the elements which makes Rapunz’ull so fun to watch is that the cast are truly embracing the material. Angelo Irving as the villainous Mayor Gothel earned his boos and hisses with a perfect dastardly turn on the stage. Our band of ‘goodies’ were also fantastic, engaging a young audience with enthusiasm and charm. Alice Beaumont as Rapunzel and Josie Morley as Ace Ladd, capturing the perfect tone of wry sincerity, undercut by Marc Graham as Pattie Breadcake, the perfect foil to fairytale earnestness. Even our henchmen were excellently played by Jack Chamberlain and Andrew Ross, bridging the gap between the meta and the physical.
Rapunz’ull is joyous in its execution. Middle Child are masters of doing a lot with a little, the company with a sardonic sense of humor and a big heart. This pantomime is biting and sarcastic but leaves us with a Christmas message of hope and kindness. What’s more Christmassy than that? Or more true to this city? Rapunz’ull is the must-see show this season for anyone who loves all things Hull as much as I do.
[Hannah Hobson – Theatre reviewer]