Rapunzel By Brandon Roberts
Directed by Brad DePlanche
Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando FL
If kids love anything better than fart jokes, it’s got to be poop jokes. There a surprising amount of scatology in this charming hour of Children’s Entertainment, it’s based on a classic Brother’s Grimm tale of child abandonment, imprisonment and cannibalism. In other words, it’s just like all the kids’ stuff that my grandparents thought was good for me when I was growing up. The Plumber (Will Hagaman) works hard to keep drains clean in his tiny kingdom; he fights hair balls and grease balls with his royal plunger and the same determination that knights use on dragons. His wife is pregnant and demands expensive and hard to find Rapunzel artisan lettuce for her pica. The only Rapunzel lettuce in the area grows next door, but the owner is an Old Hag (Amanda Leaky) who demands the unborn child in exchange for some greens. The audience cries “No, don’t do it” but The Plumber is desperate, and while he never formally agrees to the deal, the neighbor IS a witch and apples supernatural contract law to cinch the deal. Soon Rapunzel (Jayne Clare) is engaged in a 6 year upgrade to the Ms. Hag’s ugly McTower and her dad’s memories of his loving child are bewitched away.
Well, this tale might not be exactly as I remember it from 1960 but Disney never respects source material either, and in any event the audience loved the entire production with no postmodernist complaints. A few smallish children were brought on stage and givens some minimal plumbing training (you’ll need these skills someday, kids), they had great fun battling the Old Hag as The Plumber and his Apprentice (Jeffery Todd Parrott) made jokes, cleaned grease traps and demonstrated a level of hydraulic professionalism so rarely seen today. Leaky looked truly evil as a wart nosed witch, and Hagaman has that boyish charm that is only amplified by a few unsuccessful reverse plunger kicks. Ms. Clare was bold and daring as Rapunzel, she was never scared and while you can read some sort of post-feminist manifesto into this script, I prefer to think that any plumber that can produce a pipe clogging hairball on demand is destined for a healthy career. While this is certainly kids show, it’s got enough adults (but CLEAN adult) gags woven in to it that you’ll even enjoy the preshow speech.
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