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After last year’s seasonal play being my top favourite of 2022, I was hugely looking forward to Eastern Angles’ offering to counter the big showy, full production pantos – I was not disappointed.

The Miller tells a lie. He says his daughter can spin straw into gold. The King finds out and imprisons her in the tower with a spinning wheel and straw. Daughter is beside herself, she has no magical powers and has no idea what to do.

The first night after begging for help from anyone who is listening a magical being appears from the forest and agrees to help for a reward. The Daughter gives away her necklace and when she wakes in the morning all the straw has been spun into gold. The greedy King is delighted and says she can stay there and keep spinning!

After the third night the Daughter had nothing left to offer for the reward, the creature asks for something so small that it doesn’t even exist. The Daughter believing she’s outsmarted the creature, and has no other choice, agrees and once again there is gold when she awakes

Time passes and Daughter ends up marrying the King – it’s not a happy marriage as the king is still obnoxious, greedy, and selfish, yet she is pregnant but looking forward to having a baby to shower with love. Unfortunately the magical creature returns – for the baby. The only way the Daughter can remove herself from the promise is to answer the question given to her by the creature: “What is my name?”. 

This is storytelling in the most delightful and enchanting way. With minimal props and an intimate setting the four actors bring this story completely to life with words, expressions, actions and original songs. It is the most charming of performances.

The set in the tiny theatre is effective, the tower is well constructed to depict height and allows us to see the action inside. It also gives several comedy moments particularly when the Miller, who is scared of heights, tries to rescue his Daughter with a long ladder to the window – que slapstick slipping on the ladder, it was executed perfectly. 

With a quick pull of what at first seems like a scraggly curtain diagonally across the stage, with a change of lighting it transforms the stage into the dark forest as Daughter has to weave in and out of the scary trees and avoid other creatures of the night.

The Knight in the corner added some lighter moments as The Housekeeper has a soft spot for Conrad as she speaks to him while polishing his armour. As the stage is in the middle of the seating, the cast are well choreographed to make use of the available space while engaging both sides of the audience. You never felt like you were missing anything. The casting was great as the four great actors were splendid in their own right but gelled together wonderfully to create the magic of the story.

Will Castle as the King is able to portray a selfish, greedy, childlike King who is only interested in amusing himself. Maia Elsey as The Miller’s Daughter is able to come across as the strong, determined and yet desperate young lady who will overcome any of her fears to get her out of the situations she finds herself. Jon Bonner as both The Miller & The Housekeeper is able to be light hearted, funny and serious at the same time.

Joanna Brown as Rumpelstiltskin is utterly marvellous. When she dons the green cloak and funky hat she completely transforms into her version of the forest’s magical being. Her facial expressions only add to the amazing acting.

This is a charming, delightful, gorgeous and intimate fairy tale which blows you away.

Well done the Eastern Angles Team – yet again.


Happy Christmas Ipswich 4

Lost In Music


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