A special Christmas thread has been weaved in to the fairytale made popular by the Brothers Grimm in this inventive retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by Ripstop Theatre.
The king is desperate for a snazzy new Christmas jumper, and the Queen is desperate to marry off the prince to swell the court’s coffers. Queue an unfortunate boast about turning fleece into gold, and the mean machinations of Rumpelstiltskin begin.
Samantha Arends and Gemma Khawaja take on puppeteering duties, mixing acting, puppet work, and conversational narration to bring the story to life. The ‘human’ characters are soft, colourful, and welcoming, in contrast to the mechanical, unyielding, ugly whirligig of the Rumpelstiltskin puppet.
Zannie Fraser’s design makes good use of a sparse set, and with co-director Bob Percy she keeps the story at a comfortable pace for all ages. The production also makes use of more than 100 knitted squares, created by the Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers network.
It’s a charming, compact, and neatly-told story, although other than some seasonality I’m not sure the festive shtick adds anything meaningful to the yarn: a more straightforward retelling would have been just as enjoyable.
Yet it remains a fun and friendly performance that makes a perfect contrast to some of the brasher Christmas shows on offer; it is lively without being overwhelming – which may be as welcome for adults as children after a little Yuletide excess.