SLEEPING BEAUTY – Theatre Royal Plymouth


20 December 2022

3***

When you sit down to watch a Crossroads Pantomime (formerly QDOS) you really know what you will be seeing – as they say, “it does what it says on the tin”. You know you will see beautiful sets and costumes, upbeat (often very loud) music, a spectacular moment or two, lots of comedy routines and crowd-pleasing performances. You can’t knock it, well, not too hard. So formulaic are these shows, that you can almost tick off all the elements as they happen.

In Sleeping Beauty, all those boxes are ticked and the audience all have a fun two hours. The headline act is Shane Richie (as Muddles) who is absolutely ideal as a pantomime link-man; warm, friendly, a bit naughty, silly and an excellent performer. After a rather verbose, static and extended prologue, the show eventually gets going when Richie appears on stage – he is a real crowd pleaser. Peter Piper also excels as the King; his chemistry working with Richie is so good and they bounce off each other perfectly. Ceri Dupree, as the Queen, is an old-school drag artist in the manner of Danny La Rue and looks spectacular in a whole host of outrageous costumes, but often appears to be almost immobile in them, such are their designs. Matt Terry sings sweetly as Matt the Balladeer and Britt Lenting gives full voice to the evil Carabosse.

The script is vital to the success of a pantomime and, well, it’s pretty thin really; largely just a series of comedy routines linked by the odd bit of plot. The routines are generally well done, though some are very familiar (the sweet trolley one) as are a number of the jokes (the very old lady one has been around for donkey’s years) – but they still seem to work I suppose. Some routines work really well; the clothes removal one and the snippets of songs one; some go on too long – the ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ one. So a little hit and miss

Technically it is difficult to fault and hard as one may look for the mechanism driving the effect at the end of the first half, it was very well disguised even from the front rows. The band play well, though the song choices lacked familiarity in the main and were generally a little bland.

As I say, there is very little you can complain about with this pantomime, it is very family friendly (though I really miss seeing a full-blown slapstick scene and there wasn’t even a semblance of one) and entertaining. However, the more pantomimes you see from this company, the more the feeling that, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen the lot. I guess their response would be, if it isn’t broke, don’t mess with it – and Crossroads are packing them in across the country this Christmas as in years gone by. Oh yes they are!


CAST & CREATIVES

MUDDLES – SHANE RICHIE

MATT – MATT TERRY

QUEEN FABULOSA – CERI DUPREE

KING CRACKERJACK – PETER PIPER

THE GOOD FAIRY – JARNEIA RICHARD-NOEL

PRINCESS AURORA – STEPHANIE MCKENZIE

QUEEN CARABOSSE – BRITT LENTING

PRINCESS NARCISSA – ELEANOR WALSH

ENSEMBLE – JOSH CROWTHER, ALEX LINSCER, CATHERINE PURI, MOLLY REES-HOWE, NIKKI SEYMOUR, ABI TILDESLEY, JOSEPH TOBIN, BEN WHITNALL


WRITER – ALAN MCHUGH

MUSICAL DIRECTOR – DUNCAN WAUGH

DIRECTOR – JONATHAN KILEY

SET DESIGN – IAN WESTBROOK

CHOREOGRAPHER – PAUL ROBINSON

LIGHTING DESIGN – ALEX MARSHALL

SOUND DESIGN – NICK SAGAR

SPECIAL FX – THE TWINS FX

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