24-28 January 2018, The Studio, Napier
By Bridie Freeman

While Hawke’s Bay swelters in glorious summer heat, there’s a hardworking, talented ensemble of actors performing two shows a day (two!) in a fan-cooled studio on Hastings St, offering our young people enthrallment, delight and magical respite at the long-end of school holidays.

Urchin Theatre Company, under the auspices of The Drama Workshop, engages actors from HaBYT (Hawke’s Bay Youth Theatre) with professional guidance to provide quality theatre for children. And Rumpelstiltskin (written by Sarah Delahunty, directed by Kate Tarrant) delivers all the right elements for a full 40 minutes of entertainment, perfect for the 3-8 year age group. There’s music and song, colour and costume, humour, tears, misadventure, “a well that can tell”, the repeat magic of three, and of course, a happy ending for all.

The five actors (Fergus Cardwell-Dray, Marina Nash, Will Druzianic, Anna Barker and Angus Kelsey) fill nine character roles with dynamism and a theatrical enlargement that clearly claims the space and story but is never overblown. They play the audience beautifully, inviting participation, interaction, which increases proportionally to audience absorption as the show progresses, so that we become co-creators, co-players in the play. The results are simply delightful, as the children enthusiastically contribute, the actors demonstrating their mastery of the impromptu and their ability to shepherd the tangential into the fold of the story.

Rumpelstiltskin successfully weaves in all manner of twists and turns and interesting additions, without losing sight of the original well-loved tale and the simplicity of the familiar, while cleverly paced audience interaction and the supple adaptability of the actors mean no show will ever be quite the same as the next.

As we took our leave, my six-year-old nephew turned to me, his face the very epitome of ‘shining’. “I loved it!” he proclaimed emphatically, and later, giving his five-star endorsement:  “I want to go and see it again!”

Rumpelstiltskin is on daily at 10am and 2pm until 28 January.

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