‘Rapunzel Alone’ is a fresh, diverse re-imagined interpretation of one of the most classic childhood fairy tales
I recently attended 24th Street Theatre’s clever production of Rapunzel Alone at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. This refreshing play was commissioned by 24th Street and written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Mike Kenny (Walking the Tightrope.) Initially, Kenny was commissioned in 2019/pre-pandemic, to adapt Rapunzel in response to increasing isolation among teens coming of age in the world of social media, however over the course of the pandemic, lockdown, social uprising, election, insurrection, climate calamities and war, the play evolved as the world changed around us.
This production of Rapunzel Alone is a re-imagined and modern interpretation of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel. Rather than featuring a fair maiden with long hair kept captive in a tower, this story centers around Lettie, a young mixed-race girl from London sent to the countryside to stay with a guardian named Miss Pearce for her own safety during the daily bombings of World War II. On an isolated country farm away from war torn London, Lettie faces a different version of isolation with her strict new guardian and a very onery goose named Gertrude.
I loved how this play took us on a journey with Rapunzel which allowed the audience to feel her fear, pain, loneliness and the feeling of being trapped. It also took us on Miss Pearce’s journey with the audience being lured into thinking she was a mean old witch, but in reality she was struggling with fears and demons of her own. This play tapped into our universal fears of being isolated, alone and misunderstood and highlighted the importance of human desire to connect with other people who understand and care for us. It also cleverly shows us that being imprisoned might not look exactly like how you imagined it would.
I especially appreciated the diversity of the cast and I really enjoyed the talented puppeteer who brought the lively, entertianing and persnickety Gertrude the Goose to life. If you enjoy fairy tales with a modern twist, make sure to go see Rapunzel Alone when it returns to 24th Street Theatre at 1117 West 24th Street in Los Angeles April 9 – May 1, 2022.
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