beast head

Beauty and the Beast

Belgrade Theatre

*****

THIS year’s Pantomime is back to the traditional in so many ways and a real treat for all that. The script is very, very funny and a bit naughty with lots of innuendo and double entendre that, hopefully, goes sailing over the heads of the innocents in the audience!

Writer and director Iain Lauchlan – his 21st at the Belgrade incidentally -makes an excellent Dame Clarabelle Crumble alongside sidekick son Willie (Craig Hollinsworth).

They run The Pickled Peasant in the pretty French village of Jambon sur la Baguette. Beauty (Jessica Niles) and her dad Emile (Declan Wilson – he can come and sing to me anytime) run the bakery over the road which has just come to the attention of the King who wants to award Emile Master Baker status at the Royal Court.

His journey to court, ill-advised by the mercurial and narcissistic Maurice (Andrew Gordon-Watkins) and sidekick Dork (Blake Scott) take him through the Forgotten Forest. There are many dangers here including the Beast (Charlie Bowyer), condemned because of his cruelty by the Enchantress (Jenny Phillips) to 500 years of solitude until he learns about forgiveness.

The 500 years is nearly up when the beauty of a rose growing up the Chateau’s façade stops Emile in his tracks. The Beast notices and makes him offer the first living thing that greets him on his return to the village. It is Beauty. The rest is the stuff of storybooks…

This production has loads to recommend it, and all the right ingredients in the right order! The frocks are suitably French and outrageous; I loved the cake.

The messy scene is clever – Dame and son have offered to make the village bread until Emile’s return – not that they know how. The stooge – David; a real sport - was in danger of upstaging them! The children dancing are always a joy, and the girls in the audience ran them a close second in dressing up – so lovely to see.

This is a hugely enjoyable experience that doesn’t rely on special effects or ‘magic’ to liven it up, it is sweetly old-fashioned and traditional, with good songs, great script, plenty of comedy and enough of all the right ingredients to make – to borrow the Dame’s analogy – plenty of dough. To 09-01-15.

Jane Howard

27-11-15 

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