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Saturday, December 17, 2016


(Rowan Bartlett, Straw Nzimande & Clare Mortimer)

Well worth seeing and would make an exciting and enjoyable Christmas treat for the kids. (Review by Keith Millar)

It is the time of the year to keep the kids entertained and happy. Well, a good start would be to visit the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo, where it is all happening. There are actors, lights, music, masks, puppets, an evil queen, a greedy king, a beautiful maiden and a handsome prince. And to keep everyone on their toes there is an evil little rascal, Rumpelstiltskin.

Based on an ancient German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, this entertaining story is told by three actors who are very skilled in the genre of children’s theatre, Rowan Bartlett, Straw Nzimande and Clare Mortimer.

The three performers play all the roles. With the help of a variety of captivating masks and a number of Claire Mortimer’s clever puppets (look out for the crow) they keep their young audience, and the parents, engrossed, entertained and amused for the duration of the 60-minute production.

Briefly, the tale of Rumpelstiltskin tells of a Miller who, unable to pay his taxes, tells the King that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Although the daughter has no such skill, the King puts her to work to do just this. She is saved when the evil little man, Rumpelstiltskin, appears and spins the gold for her in exchange for a gift. Eventually, when she runs out of things to give the evil imp, he tells her that she must find out his name or sacrifice her first-born baby to him. Of course, with his odd name this is no easy task. But guess what, in the end, “they all live happily ever after.”

It is a fairly complex story and the very young may lose the thread from time to time. However, this did not seem to matter too much as those present were totally caught up in the action.

The set also bears special mention. Various trestles and tables seemed to fold up into any number of props and serve to set the scene for a variety of settings.

The liberal use of dramatic classical music also worked well to create tension and set the ambience. Although at times it was a little loud and drowned out Rumpelstiltskin’s dialogue.

At the conclusion of the production there is a brief Christmas decoration making workshop. All the children present were creatively involved in this process which they enjoyed thoroughly.

My four-year-old co-reviewer declared that it was a wonderful day, and the decoration making was his favourite part.

Rumpelstiltskin is well worth seeing and would make an exciting and enjoyable Christmas treat for the kids.

Rumpelstiltskin, which can be seen at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road in Umbilo where it is alternating with the Rhumbelow’s other children’s production, Criss Cross Christmas until December 22. Tickets R70 pp. Email Roland for bookings or book at Computicket or phone Ailsa on 083 250 2690 or email - Keith Millar

See the review of “Criss Cross Christmas”’s premier season in 2013 at