Writer: Madame LePrince de Beaumont
Adapter: Nick Lane
Director: Paul Robinson
Set in the fictional town of Scarbolopolis, a place somewhat lacking in Christmas spirit, a spritely young Rosabelle, along with her Dad and Nan arrive hoping to spread a little cheer. No spoilers here but in true panto-style mischief and calamity ensues as dad gets lost in a mythical forest and only our young heroine can save the day. There’s a Beast, a baddie and her henchman and there’s even a warped machine that creates fear and mystery in order to feed a dark and dastardly sea fiend. All the usual panto gags are there in a Christmas show where even you, the audience, are the stars!
The cast, playing multiple roles handle Lane’s brilliant adaptation of the Madame LePrince de Beaumont classic tale beautifully and there are boos, hisses and “it’s behind yous” galore. Yes, the plot is tenuous at times but it is also perfectly bonkers, weird and wonderful – it will most certainly keep the young ones enthralled and older ones will love it too. There’s audience participation aplenty – packed full of songs you know and love including a bizarre rendition of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You sung by a pair of old stone statues covered in moss.
Nick Lane’s wonderfully written quick-fire dialogue, coupled with an almost magnetic energy from the small cast of 5 bring this traditional story (with huge plot twists) to life in the Round Theatre. Each actor, playing a multitude of roles, are expertly deft in engaging their audience; Amy Drake, Annie Kirkman, Oliver Mawdsley, Kiara Nicole Pillai and Charlie Ryan are all equally well cast and it’s clear the company have worked cohesively to bring Lane’s vision to life.
From Helen Coyston’s simple yet effective costumes to Mark Johnson and Simon Slater’s lighting and sound design – it all just seems to fit. Think you know the story of Beauty and the Beast? Think again – this simply staged adaptation has been completely turned on its head and, to the show’s benefit, it really works. This tale as old as time has been given a completely new take – something the SJT do so well.
It just goes to show you don’t need a fancy set, glittering costumes and special effects to create a spellbinding Christmas show. The offering from Stephen Joseph Theatre this year has all the necessary ingredients of a conventional pantomime. Oh yes it does! Paul Robinson directs with skill but the real star here is in the writing. More like this please.
Christmas has finally landed in Scarborough and Beauty and the Beastis just the tonic for your festive spirits!
Runs until 30th December 2023