Review: Rapunzel – Unbraided!!! (but not uncut…) (Cabbagetown Theatre Company)

Cabbagetown Theatre Company develops and performs a short children’s theatre piece every year at the Cabbagetown Festival.   For 2011, the piece is Rapunzel – Unbraided!!! (but not uncut…).  This half-hour panto-style piece is not the same old Rapunzel story you’re used to.  It’s a piece written by Kim Sprenger & Co. that I think could safely be billed as being “inspired by Rapunzel.”

It’s a pretty cute piece, and some of the kids in the audience really got into it.  Personally, I would have liked to see it tightened up a bit with a bit less exposition and a bit more ‘showing’.  I don’t think that all that back story was really necessary, and it didn’t engage the kids the way the pieces that were acted instead of told did.

As with all kid pantomimes, audience participation is encouraged.  The audience cheers and boos and answers questions.  It’s a really fun way to interact with a show.  But the audience needs to be invited to do it.  As adults we know the rules, but the kids, mostly under 5, didn’t seem to understand right off what was happening.

A really brief overt “please participate” would have been good.  Also, an audience plant with some answers to get things going.  As the mother of a toddler, I am well-versed in short attention spans and the importance of piquing their interest early, so I think it’d be good to do whatever is possible to get the kids actively involved as early as possible.

There was one terrifying moment for my show-partner and me.  The mother onstage turned to the audience and asked “what bad things can happen to little girls.”  My play partner and I looked at each other with wide-eyed horror, terrified what ‘out-of-the-mouth of babes’ might produce.  Luckily I think that all went well, although no one came up with the desired answer of ‘they turn into teenagers’.  My advice when coming up with questions for the audience would be to ask a lot of people those questions in lots of different situations to see what potential responses you might get.

All of that said, the bottom-line was that it was four people on stage having a great time, and that’s infectious.  For $5 per person, it’s a great way to spend a little time watching your kids giggle at grown-ups being silly on stage.  Although the piece says “comedy for all ages,” I think it’s really more geared to kids.

The piece has 5 more shows on Sunday, so come check out the Cabbagetown Festival, and while you’re there, check out this passionate troupe having tons of fun on stage.

Also, if you don’t have kids, but you’re curious about the theatre company, be sure to check out their annual “No Sweetheart Required” showcase around Valentine’s Day.  It’s got short play, music, and general cabaret goodness.
–    Rapunzel – Unbraided!!! (but not uncut…) plays at the Necropolis Chapel (200 Winchester Street) from September 9 – 12, 2011
–    There are four daily shows on the weekend.  The times are 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.
–    Tickets are $5 per person, available at the door