Doug Devaney’s Sleeping Beauty at Emporium on London Road is a delightful Christmas offering incorporating all the features expected of a traditional pantomime, wrapped up in a clever script and featuring very strong individual performances by the actors and children.
WHILE EVERYONE knows the story of Sleeping Beauty, this version set in the Kingdom of Floribunda is done in flashbacks and narrated by the royal cook, Bilberry, who delivers the narrative in a broad Lancashire or is that a Yorkshire accent, oh and yes, the Prince and Princess do live happily ever after, eventually!
Best described as a traditional Pantomine, this at times dark presentation of the classic fairy tale has something for everyone. However, I found the storyline at times a little complex and while Bilberry does a wonderful job keeping us up to speed with events I think at times the script was challenging for some of the very young children around me.
That apart the show is a wonderful romp and about the quality of the individual performances, which are all very impressive.
Bilberry’s (Conor Baum) is at times mesmerising and very, very funny. His performance is pivitol to the success of the storytelling and the children loved him. He postured and posed his way through the show and to top it all had a fine singing voice.
The two villains, Bindweed (Jenny Rowe) and Dandelion (Coco Hennessy) screeched and cackled their way through the evening. The pair were gloriously evil and a credit to all panto villains. They frightened me, so I particularly felt for the very little girl on the front row who went to sit on her mothers lap cowering for protection and safety when this pair were in full evil flow.
The King (Doug Devaney) and Queen (Peta Taylor) were suitably regal and traditional in the approach to their roles, they worked solidly together and together were a perfect foil for Bilberry’s posturing and ‘Kenneth Williams’ facial expressions.
Prince D Vine (Duncan Drury) looked good, sounded good and has a great pair of thighs. His comic timing was spot on as was his ability to mock himself. He created a real presence while on stage, at times almost, but not quite, stealing the show.
The Princess, Briar Rose (Laura Sillett) looked the part of a Princess, sings beautifully and brings a wide range of dynamics to her performance.
The seven lead actors make a real team, working for each other, complementing each other and along with the lovely children from Drama Queens they create a tight professional ensemble.
The music and lyrics composed by Christopher Andrews are very strong and some of the numbers are very memorable, however, I felt less comfortable with the pre-recorded musical arrangements which at time detracted from the strong melodics lines of the music.
The show is directed by James Weisz, designed by Gary Blair and choreographed by Nathan Potter.
Sleeping Beauty runs at the Emporium, 88 London Road, until Saturday, January 17.
For details of performances and to book tickets, click here:
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