The Puppet Co’s rendition of Rapunzel snaps with the vigor of fresh vegetables, which is what rapunzel actually is, a vine in the radish family. Master Puppeteer Christopher Piper passes along such delish nuggets in telling the familiar story with an innocent charm. He portrays all of the characters, sophisticated rod puppets with such distinct voices, mannerisms, and personalities that you’d swear there must be a multitude behind the curtain.
Even before the official story begins, Piper invokes the audience to practice saying “poof” to set the stage for magic to take root. After he gets everyone primed and ready, the story opens with an everyday couple presumably satisfied with their humble lot in life. From out of nowhere, the wife begins to crave rapunzel, not their own puny plants but the luscious vines over the wall. She entreats her husband, who’s main response is a mealy-mouthed “yes, dear,” to secure the rapunzel radishes from their neighbor, who happens of course, to be a witch. The interaction between the two is the funniest bit of the production especially when she collapses, feigning starvation to get him to risk his life to retrieve some of the forbidden morsel. Once he tries too many times and gets caught, well, the witch gets her due, and in a chaste way found only in puppet land, a baby girl is delivered, only to be swooped up by the witch as part of a bargain.
The relationship between Rapunzel and her witch Mom-guardian is touching as the girl longs for attention. Tales of mundane life activities seem wonderfully exciting to someone stuck in a tower all of her life. Once the witch realizes she’s been betrayed, her loud fury is represented by the cackling loud thunder and zig zag lightening projected on the set.
Closes October 5, 2014
The Puppet Co.
7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, MD
40 minutes, no intermission
Fridays thru Sundays
The cutting off Rapunzel’s hair is a bit of hilarity with the two running and churning up a frenzy, eluding each other slapstick style until the wretched deed is done. Rapunzel is banished to a remote location and the story runs its course when the handsome prince though blinded by the cursed briars somehow finds her and is healed by her tears of redemption and joy.
The Puppet Co finds fresh new ways to share age-old tales where the characters have personality and wit. The gorgeous puppets, costumes and creative set design are all by Allan Stevens who also directed. Piper’s ad libs, scene development and flawless timing bring out chuckles in all the right places and also some unexpected spots with layered humor. Continuing their legacy of quality entertainment, The Puppet Co delivers fun for the entire family with Rapunzel.
Rapunzel based on the fairy tale . Written by Duane T. Bowers . Performed by Christopher Piper . Costumes and Set design: Allan Stevens . Produced by The Puppet Co . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.
Running time: 40 minutes
Rating of the show: Recommended