Potty humor, Puns and a Ripping Good Time: “Rumpelstiltskin, or All That Glitters”

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf. The cast is wonderful – whether they wore pants or not.

Presented by Imaginary Beasts
Conceived and directed by Matthew Woods
Written by The Ensemble
Choreography by Kiki Samko, Daniel J. Raps, and The Ensemble

January 11 – February 1, 2014
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston, MA
Imaginary Beasts on Facebook

(Boston) The low-brow humor of the pantomime* is not for everyone. Not unlike the like satyr plays of the ancient Greeks, panto isn’t intended to educate an audience but to show it a ripping good time. It’s a celebration of adult immaturity heaping with potty humor, puns and physical comedy. Imaginary Beasts’ winter pantos deliver this and so much more. This year’s treat, Rumpelstiltskin, or All That Glitters, packs in the family-inappropriate funny while also tantalizing the brain with witty pop culture references, dance, and a dash of Alice in Wonderland. You can’t bring a kid to a satyr play but you should bring your baby of any age to Rumplestiltskin.

Rumple is based on the beloved fairytale told at bedtimes all across the globe. The Miller tells the king that his/her daughter can spin straw into gold. Daughter promises her first born in exchange for a miracle, etc. Inevitably, the miller’s daughter names Rumplestiltskin and everyone lives mostly happily ever after. Imaginary Beasts take the tale many steps further by adding a coterie of extra characters to beef up the story and provide needed humor into the plot – all while gingerly tossing a baby across the stage.

Rumple’s script is golden. Like Pixar at its best, the young, old, educated and not so educated can enjoy Rumple. The language is witty yet simple without pandering to the children who attend.The set by Deirdre Benson and Matthew Woods is similarly simple yet polychromatic, proving that a complicated set can be nice but isn’t necessary. The choreography is cute and reflects the tone of the music. It’s a pretty show to look at and listen to.

The cast, as usual, is delightful. Whether playing a Bee (Beth Pearson) and Bear (Cameron Cronin) pair that speak in code, a trio of Wyrd sisters that Terry Prachett might have mixed in a Shakespearean blender, or a pantless wonder (Kiki Samko) they are all charming in their own unique, hilarious ways. In particular, Sarah Gazdowicz (whose nerd-hot Myrtle would turn heads at MIT), William Schuller (King Guilfroy) and Michael Underhill (Sir Wantinvain) gave particularly good performances. Matthew Woods played the titular character with sass… But they all did. No weak performances in this show.

My only critique (aside from the performance-specific inside jokes (Happy birthday, Lindsey Eagle)) is that the cast did not wait for laugh lines. Rumpelstiltskin, or All That Glitters made me smile so much that my face hurt. I suppose a few lost lines can be excused when the lines that were heard were so hilarious.

*This is a show geared towards kids. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it but you can’t expect it to have the same depth as Imaginary Beasts’ “adults only” productions.

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