Writers: Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton
Director: Mark Chatterton
Reviewer: John Roberts
One thing for certain, Sleeping Beauty at the Everyman is as bold and bright as it always has been. While Dinah England’s sparkly set has an uncanny air of familiarity about it, the cast have undergone a little face-lift, familiar and long term favourites such as Francis Tucker (previous long-standing Dame) are no longer present but that doesn’t stop the show feeling as warm and as welcoming as it always has.
Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton’s script may take extreme artistic liberties with the ever-popular fairytale but the bare bones of its tale is still standing (just), but for younger audiences, it’s mix of time-traveling and Wizard of Oz cross-contamination could prove a little confusing.
As usual, the Everyman pantomime is infused with songs past and present with a mash-up of Rachel Patton’s Fight Song and Katy Perry’s roar proving very popular with the audience and delivered with gusto by Stephanie Hockley’s fiercely Independent Princess Rosa. Hockley provides the lead protagonist with plenty of punch and lashings of feminism, this is a pantomime princess that doesn’t really need the Prince to ‘save’ her, but sadly she does succumb to the more traditional ‘happy ever after’. Her Prince in this instance is played by regular Jamie Noar who oozes cheeky charisma from his initial entrance and audience winks to the moment he takes his final bow.
Panto favourite Adam Keast returns with his usual camp splendour as Sir Robin, the slightly haphazard Royal protector. Keast provides the Everyman stage with plenty of his trademarked naughtiness and innuendo (and trust me, this year gets naughtier than normal). His usual partner in crime as mentioned before is notably absent, but rest assured his replacement is perfect. Matthew Quinn makes a splendid dame and his portrayal as Queen Gladys is every bit as exciting and dangerous as his predecessor. Throw in a devilish dollop of his sensational singing voice and he brings plenty to enjoy into the mix.
As the evil fairy Magnificent, Gracie Lai certainly brings plenty of shade to proceedings, she relishes every boo and hiss that is thrown her way and is matched brilliantly by Anna Sodden as Rosa’s Godmother Fairy Poppins. But the evening is totally stolen by Danny Burns’ eclectic array of characters including the time-traveling Doc Toc. Burns never stops and gives the Panto, at times, a much-needed boost of energy. And that energy, when we watched (night after press night), is what seemed to be lacking. At 2.5hours in length, the show occasionally lacked in pace and some of the jokes failed to land. It must be noted that the audience were certainly quiet, and took its collective time to warm up.
It may have its flaws but Sleeping Beauty provides plenty to enjoy and is a fun night out that will certainly get you in the Christmas Spirit.
Runs until 18 Jan 2020 | Image: Robert Day