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Rumpelstiltskin – Insane Root – The New Room, John Wesley’s Chapel REVIEW

The site specific theatre group Insane Root have found another gorgeous corner of Bristol to transform into a very special performing space. The New Room at the John Wesley Chapel is tucked in the heart of Broadmead; a place I’ve walked past hundreds of times but never really noticed. It is here where they show their magical production of Rumpelstiltskin. 


The candlelit room worked perfectly for atmosphere and matched the story’s scenery needs well. It’s effective yet understated, enhancing the actors performance rather than distracting from it. Props were limited too, a single sack of straw, candles and the spinning wheel were all that was needed to support this strong production. What it was built upon were words. 

This production is filled with beautiful words, beautifully spoken, all woven together to build a tale of moral and greed. The script has kept the magic of a fairytale as well as some of the darker elements from the original folk story. 


A miller (Dan Wheeler) unintentionally suggests to the king (Norma Butikofer) that his daughter Milly (Katie Tranter) can spin straw into gold. Things spiral out of control as Milly desperately recruits Rumpelstiltskin to save her head. There are several endings to this Brothers Grimm folk tale but Insane Root have settled on a moderately dark version similar to the original where Rumpelstiltskin pulls himself apart in a passionate rage. 


The character of Rumpelstiltskin himself was created by simply a couple of scarves, a glowing skull and the ominous detached voice of Norma which resonated around the church. Not the goblin like creature you know from the children’s books but, like the set, the words simple yet effective come to mind. 


The three actors immediately break the fourth wall, welcome you into their world and guide you through the story. There is not a weak moment between the three of them, and not even a sign of a stumble or stutter in the very wordy script. 

Rumpelstiltskin in The New Room runs until 1 November. For more information and tickets go to

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