Beauty and the Beast (Young Vic)
This fairytale re-imagining from director Phelim McDermott will steal your heart
I am turned to mush. Truly, I might just have seen 2013's most romantic show.
Beauty and the Beast, as reimagined by Londoner Mat Fraser and Detroit native Julie Atlas Muz, is neither Disney nor Cocteau, but their 'tale as old as time' laid bare and made true.
Its leads - married in real life - met in the oddball mecca of New York's Coney Island, he the new 'Seal Boy' MC courtesy of his Thalidomide-shortened arms, she an acclaimed burlesque dancer known for her self-ravaging act, The Hand.
Steered by Improbable director, Phelim McDermott (and aided by the very game puppeteers Jess Jones and Johnny Dixon), their love story becomes a fable of the beast and beauty in everyone. Disability arts practice it isn't, nor "proper theatre" (we are warned), but something other, something better.
And did I mention the buttocks? We see an awful lot of them. Not to mention an erotic sponge down, a very fruity supper, and a doggy midnight chorus led by Muz that shows up Sandra Bullock's howls in Gravity as mere Hollywood whimpers.
The production has its pacing issues and some well-intentioned panto elements that don't quite come off (two ugly sisters, a rubber-faced old father), but when focus returns to the core romance all is forgiven.
Yes, it's sexy, with nudity and disability cleverly competing for our gaze. But it's the kisses that linger. Who would have thought a real husband and wife could have an audience whooping when they first lock lips - or crying at their goodbye PDAs? But these two really got us good.