For those not into the camp of pantomime, fairy tales are also feeling rather eclectic this theatre season.
Rumpelstiltskin, the Grimm and gallant classic, comes to Southbank Centre for a limited run, and reinvents everything we know and might judge about a musical. Australian cabaret legend Paul Caspis plays the shape-shifting and starring role imp. Looking like a Central Saint Martins lecturer that frequents The Glory and has an Instagram page dedicated to tofu, his character has immediate quirk in an almost unexplainable way – call it a stage presence of both drama and delicacy – or your mad auntie that you see at Christmas! His vocal pitches reach Kate Bush heights and obscure into David Bowie depth – giving you an intimate concert of Vegas diva worth. Have we sold Rumpelstiltskin as a character yet? Because there’s a storyline around him too! Mixing the classic tale with modern set-ups, we meet an ambitious hun who lands a city job at the Rumpelstiltskin beauty boutique. You can only imagine the fabulous elite that pop by for a pamper, and it’s not long before the girl socialites her way to the top. Rumpelstiltskin with his ice cream scooped hair-do is left broken hearted and only consoled by his sewer friends – a matriarchal crow who looks like a political advisor to Anna Wintour, and the campest plump rat who was born with an innuendo raised eyebrow and tail to sashay. The girl is given a moral dilemma to conquer and re-find herself, and we won’t give it away but…of course she does!
There’s nothing cliché or cheesy about this story though – with a script rich in cultural quirk and references, an injection of camp with intellect behind it, and a contemporary Southbank stage design with surreal effects to trip the eye, Rumpelstiltskin sets the bar for all shows that follow in 2019.
Rumpelstiltskin is currently showing at the Southbank Centre Queen Elizabeth Hall. Find out more here.