Written by Alan McHugh, this retelling of Beauty and the Beast follows a familiar plot, taking a few turns in the dark woods along the way.
The daughter of a wealthy Glasgow merchant, Beauty dreams of throwing aside social conventions and unleashing the wild within herself. When her father steals a rose from the garden of a hideous beast, the trader is forced to make a crushing deal, promising to send his daughter to the creature in exchange for his life. Honour bound, Beauty agrees and finds herself in the thrawl of Cora, a beautiful enchantress who transformed her suitor into an animal when he refused to take her hand in marriage.
Haunted by the spirits which chilled the Dickensian Christmases, Philip Whitcomb’s design is beautiful , a highlight not just of the season but of the year. It captures the decaying grandeur of the Regency period, all dusty grey foot servants and gaudily enamelled mirrors. Part Universal horror film and part Victorian Gothic, Whitcomb has created something both cinematic and nightmarish.
Gemma McElhinney’s Beauty excels in her unwillingness to be the damsel. Her Celtic lilt lends itself to the cello and clarinet of Claire McKenzie’s excellent original music, lending a Scottish folk feel to the French tale.
As the wicked witch of the piece, Josephine Warren is possessing, swaggering with an elegant confidence and desperate vulnerability. Her vocally perfect performance is mesmerising, seductive and villainous.
The Citizens Theatre has created something very special, a production red in tooth and claw which sets the heart both fluttering and racing. This is a feast for anyone who wants more from a Christmas show than a handful of caught sweets.