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Sleeping Beauty (Coventry)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

With the dominant pantomime companies such as QDOS, it is sometimes easy to forget the independent productions. The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in association with Imagine Theatre present Sleeping Beauty this Christmas and is a show that should not be overlooked. This production has been running now for considerably longer than most, having started on the 28th November and because of this, it is very settled and comfortable. Sometimes this can be a bad thing but it still felt fresh and energised which is wonderful.

Visually the sets and costumes, designed by the super talented Mark Walters, appear to be heavily inspired by a pop-up book and are very fitting for the production in question. Marcus Robinson's lighting design aided the vision well and wasn't too fussy. Perhaps not always memorable but the original music was good, arranged by Steve Etherington and directed by Glenn Hogue. The vocals were delivered well by the company although much of which was dubbed by backing track.

Occasionally directing, writing and starring in a show can be a difficult feat as one element is often hindered. This is not the case for Iain Lachlan who does all three to an extremely high standard. His innovative script moves the story along at a good pace and there is plenty of double-sided humour for good measure. His character, Dame Nanny Knot, is inspired and there is a complete love for the job that shines throughout. His eccentric laugh was enough to make the audience crease with laughter!

Katy Stephens, playing Carabosse the Bad Fairy, was a standout for me. Having seen her in The Father earlier this year, this role could not be further away but she delivers in excellent form. From her impressive entrance at the top of the show and throughout, she shines epically. Another star turn comes from Craig Hollingsworth playing Muddles; a real crowd pleaser and oozes charisma.

Sticking to the traditional pantomime traits, Prince Valiant was played by a woman, Morna Macpherson. Although sometimes a little wooden, she was competent and worked well alongside Lindsay Harding as Princess Belle. To bulk up the company, there is also a children's chorus who are featured heavily throughout and need to be commended.

Sleeping Beauty is a joy to watch and is one for the whole family. The show runs at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until the 5th January 2013. - Jenny Antill


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