Rapunzel review: Joe Wicks, Tik Tok and just under an hour long - perfect!

Rapunzel the pantomime

Rapunzel at Sheringham Little Theatre and St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth has saved panto this year with a shorter, socially-distanced show which mines our shared experience of lockdown. - Credit: St George's Theatre

Rapunzel is alone in the world with nothing much to do but talk to spiders and read books.

She longs to explore the delights of Norfolk - and crucially to  meet a handsome prince - but is literally held prisoner in a tower.

The lockdown parallels are a gift.

How could Prince Parp contact her in a world where no-one can meet up? By Zoom of course, and a sketch ensues full of the many trials of being on video conferencing like getting stuck on mute and the screen freezing.

It is traditional panto, but in a pandemic. And it's a joy.

With fewer actors on stage, just four, and a socially distanced audience the show runs for just under an hour without an interval - and for most people that will be absolutely enough and probably the way forward forever.

Rapunzel the pantomime

Some 185,000 children across the UK have enjoyed a live-streamed version of Rapunzel, the lockdown panto being staged with social distancing at Sheringham Little Theatre and St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: St George's Theatre

In many ways this is panto as it should be, fast paced, never a dull moment, and with no over-long love songs.

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The jokes resonate with a young audience (Joe Wicks, Tik Tok, YouTube) but there are plenty of (never smutty) laughs for grown ups too.

The slapstick and the campness are still there in a wooded world where everyone needs to keep "one unicorn away from each other."

Instead of the usual 250 we were an audience of 76, sitting round tables in bubbles and enjoying waiter service - to be honest it's better.

From the off it was clear the auditorium was ready to play its part after being cooped up for so long, delivering plenty of whoops.

It really didn't matter there was only a cast of four and I didn't miss the dance routines, or the pretence that something unplanned had happened (always annoying).

Charlie Randall brought a Hugh Grant-style foppishness to Prince Parp as he wooed Rapunzel played by Emma Riches, a professional singer from Great Yarmouth.

The comic villain role goes to Loraine Metcalfe as evil sorceress Gothel  and instead of the traditional dame we have Fantazmo played by Harry Williams, in the style of a flamboyant Elton John.

They all give gutsy renditions of the various songs, chiming with the young audience.

I enjoyed it, and judging by the reactions of the two three-year-old girls in their sparkly Christmas finery in front of me they had a whale of a time too.

Rapunzel was written and directed by Nick Earnshaw, who was able to bring a modern tech-savvy twist to the comedy.

The panto is playing at Sheringham Little Theatre and St George's Theatre for a limited number of shows only, but will be available to view online.