DramaFamilyFestive 18/19North West

Beauty and the Beast – Unity Theatre, Liverpool

Writer: Kevin Dyer

Music: Patrick Dineen

Director: Nina Hakiyianni

Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin

Including a great deal of movement and physical theatre in a show for children is always a risk. While many delight in the comic antics and accent on movement, others insist on breaking the silence with their own dialogue – some of it from traditional Panto.

In many ways, Beauty and the Beast is an ideal vehicle for lots of additional movement as the narrative is quite thin. This means that it is easy to imagine that the house with its mobile mirrors and doors is the villain of the piece. It is far spookier than the poor Beast who is, of course, a real softie.

To suit the style, the cast includes backgrounds in clowning and physical theatre. The most outstanding being Simone Lewis, the Beast’s factotum in the grand house. Lewis gives us a delicious precision of movement honed from being a Gaulier trained physical artist, clown and puppeteer. She was the key behind the best set-piece of physical theatre: The game of hide and seek.

While Rose-Marie Christian seems rather subdued as Belle the Beauty. Belle’s father, who picks the Rose that starts all the shenanigans, is played by Stephen Collins, with the right amount of bemusement and concern for his daughter.

Edward Day, a graduate of a Paris-based physical theatre school, as the lanky unloved Beast has a good comic style but sadly lacks with unconvincing growling.

Set designer Lena Kennard has come up with simple but effective ideas enabling director Nina Hajiyianni, to keep her characters easily on the move. And not only keeping the cast on the move the invitation from Simone to join a Conga had the children scrambling on to the stage. As ever with Transport Action Theatre’s Christmas show Patrick Dineen’s songs are an excellent regular traditional ingredient with the number about a “Beast School” proving very popular.

Action Transport and The Unity are to be commended for using Makaton signing throughout the performance and for having deaf actors within the cast. It plays an important role in the Liverpool based DaDaFest.

The style is a bold move and for many, perhaps an acquired taste, but Fringe Theatre should be about taking risks.  So why not take a chance you might discover you’ve found your own very different Christmas Cracker.

Runs until 5 January 2019 | Image: Contributed

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