Plenty of shows draw inspiration from the tales of the Brothers Grimm, but none do it quite like this. With a large and talented cast, the action moves through time and across the stage; a world and many lifetimes separate the characters of the story, but their lives echo one another.
We meet Lila, suffering from postnatal depression and kept as an inpatient, troubled by dreams and worries. Then we meet her past self, who realises they cannot afford another child - and with her daughter Rosa goes to The Tower to collect the abortifacient rapunzel. But the witches who live in the tower have predicted another baby, and that view of the future makes sense as we see them capture the pair, speed the pregnancy through, and force Lila to deliver the child they call Rapunzel.
The style of the production calls for patience from its audience. All the actors are on stage all the time, which at first is almost overwhelming. But have faith; they are introduced as the story unfolds, and we begin to see the significance of their costumes, roles and parts. The ensemble is key to this, providing scenery and sound effects, and directing the audience's attention as the action moves around the stage. As we enter they are cradling their clothes like babies, hushing and singing to them; later they become observers, trees, butterflies, and even time and magic itself.
I enjoyed the contrasts in the play. The witches are afraid to lose the child as she grows, while Lila is afraid she can't look after her baby well enough. There are also both telling parallels and differences between Lila's mental and Rapunzel's physical prison. However, I felt the piece would have been stronger if the stories had mirrored each other more closely; we see Lila at the begging of both of them, but she fades entirely from one, and only small echoes of wolves and storms keep the threads linked. I felt such an interesting concept could have become so much more.
Motherhood, childhood and growing up; fear of losing loved ones, and of not being good enough. All these topics are all explored in this piece. Visually pleasing, this show combines the familiar tale with a modern experience and an interesting twist.