Rumpelstiltskin 2

REVIEW: Rumpelstiltskin – The Mac, Belfast

Rumpelstiltskin 2Driven by clever songs and score, the Mac’s uniquely dark and comical spin on the classic fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin will not disappoint both young and old this festive season.

Emily (The Miller’s daughter) is the gutsy and resourceful heroine at the heart of the production and local actress Doireann McKenna portrays the unstereotypical fairytale princess with a great feistiness. Emily’s hapless but loveable father (Tom Giles), unwittingly informs the King that one of Emily’s many talents is being able to spin straw into gold. Although played with a charming camp comedy, The King (Lisburn’s Michael Lavery) is misguided and in his desperation to raise Kingdom coffers, threatens Emily with execution if she does not deliver on her father’s claims. It is her stench of despair that feeds the desires of Rumpelstiltskin and allows for his eventual introduction to the performance.

Like some sort of grubby, black leather clad, spikey creature from the depths of the dark forest, Rumpelstiltskin is brought to life by actress Jo Donnelly. Staying just on the right side of scary for some of the youngest members of the audience, and even responsible for quite a few laughs, the pace of the production steps up a gear upon his appearance.


It is Rumpelstiltskin who conjures up the required gold for Emily 3 times, but the third brings with it a harsh condition. During her time in the dungeon Emily and the King enter into an unlikely courtship and if they are to marry, Emily promises to relinquish their first born child to Rumpelstiltskin in exchange for the spinning of the gold required to spare her execution. The highlight of the show is the witty verbal ‘boxing match’ exchange between Emily and Rumpelstiltskin when he comes to collect on his deal.

The family friendly production is recommended for all ages with an emphasis on the over 5s and there is plenty within it to keep the kids engaged for around the 90min mark (including interval). Not least of all, audience participation in the form of cast members invading the audience and a sort of beach ball volleyball match in the second act (much to the delight of everyone).

Emily might not have been great at the spinning wheel, but she shows great intelligence and courage in spinning herself out of several desperate situations caused by the men around her. A female lead I can get on board with.