This is not Rumpelstiltskin as I had come to love along with many other Brothers Grimm fairy tales. I was expecting to leave with a warm, festive feeling, but felt more dazed and confused. My grandson, who couldn’t make it (and help review this production), left me calling upon a responsible adult to assist, writes Susan Hallissey.

Rumpelstiltskin is played with gusto by Paul Capsis; his commitment never wanes, and along with the rest of the cast he can sure hold a tune. 

Harriet (Sheridan Harbridge) is the small town girl who wants it all: the job, the clothes, the husband and the baby.  But when she falls foul of Rumpelstiltskin, the fashion designer of the moment, mayhem kicks in.  She would give away anything, even her most ‘precious future possession’, and indeed this happens, highlighting the material desire for more.  

This is a morality tale of consumerism, but with lyrics such as ‘credit is a ticking time bomb’ (tell me about it!), and references to Instagram, I became confused as to what kind of audience this Rumpelstiltskin was aimed at. I thought that Rumpelstiltskin’s revelations about betrayal by his parents could have been explored more as Capsis’ voice brought out elements of emotion. On the plus side the projections on to the circular set were pretty awesome, and were a reminder that Rumpelstiltskin did indeed spin.  

I can’t knock the energy of the second act and a great solo by Ezra Juanta as Surprise Character, even though he wasn’t actually a surprise. And the live music of Paul White, which was excellent, deserves a mention.

Performed by the Windmill Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia, this Rumpelstiltskin sadly missed the mark for me.  Storylines became incomplete and messy, and the overall feeling this left was as empty as the consumerism it railed about. I won’t be returning with my grandson, even though Rumpelstiltskin does get to wear a rather lust-after cloak at one point! Ah, consumerism, it never stops!

Age 8+

Rumpelstiltskin is on at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX until 6 Jan 2019. Times: 7pm; Sat matinees 2pm; Sun matinee 11am & 2pm. Admission: £20 – £40. Phone: 0203 879 9555

Photo by Shane Reid